News Feature | October 29, 2019

The Week in 5G: 10/29/2019 — Forecasters Vs. 5G in Egypt, Volkswagen touts V2X Golf, ZTE and Huawei Bouncing Back

By Ed Biller


Negotiations will begin in Egypt this week to determine what solutions exist, if any, to prevent 5G from interfering with weather forecasting. In May, Neil Jacobs, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warned U.S. members of Congress that, at currently proposed 5G power levels, satellites may have trouble reading natural signals given off by water vapor, degrading forecast skills by as much as 30 percent, and setting back forecast accuracy levels 40 years.

Now, 3,000 delegates, representing almost every country, will try to resolve the dispute over the RF bands “used by meteorologists and coveted by cellphone companies,” reports The Verge. The debate will take place at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

In less contentious 5G network news, Qualcomm announced last week its launch of the Qualcomm Ventures 5G Ecosystem Fund, which is intended to invest up to an aggregate of $200 million in companies building the 5G ecosystem. According to the chipmaker, the global fund “will focus on investing in startups developing new and innovative 5G use cases, driving 5G network transformation and expanding 5G into enterprise markets. This fund is designed to help accelerate 5G innovation beyond the smartphone and drive 5G adoption.”

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to allow China’s Huawei to access to “non-contentious” parts of Britain’s future 5G telecoms network, reports The Times, noting that such a move would “put the UK on collision course with America, which has banned Huawei over fears that it is too close to Chinese intelligence agencies.”

China’s ZTE, the world’s fourth largest telecommunications equipment supplier, is experiencing a markedly better 2019 than 2018, when the company posted record losses under the heel of a U.S. trade ban. ZTE announced on Oct. 29 that it now has secured 35 commercial 5G network supply contracts globally, according to the South China Morning Post.

From on-the-ground networks to in-flight connectivity (IFC), Gogo has announced Cisco, Airspace, and First RF as strategic partners in the development of its 5G system and network. The 5G network “will leverage the existing 250 towers that enable its current 3G and 4G IFC networks” and operate “with a new modem and beam-forming technology providing the airplane-to-ground (ATG) station link,” reports Avionics International.

Gogo plans to launch its fifth generation ATG network in 2021, utilizing bandwidth in both the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band and the 850 MHz spectrum.

At sea, the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium is implementing a private 5G network with the goal of creating an “accelerator for innovation in and around the port,” reports The Maritime Executive. Phase one of the plan should be completed this year, and aims to create a data network “for connectivity with tugboats, air pollution detectors, camera’s and quay sensors,” as well as a new sealock whose construction currently is being planned, and “will be deployed at port companies for dispatching, connectivity with straddle carriers, track and trace systems and critical group communication.”

Implementation of the project’s second phase is planned for next year and will cover the inner port.

Meanwhile, China e-retailer has launched a logistics park powered by 5G networks; the aim is to improve both the Beijing warehousing facility’s efficiency and safety via “a new monitoring system that can detect and assess problems that occur on-site, in real-time,” reports ZDNet. “With its real-time monitoring system, [the system] would be able to track the location and routes of forklifts and pallets, as well as receive preemptive alerts if there was an anomaly.”

In tech news, let’s lead with automobiles, rather than cell phone handsets! Last week, Volkswagen unveiled its eighth-generation Golf hatchback, which features V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication skills.

Volkswagen boasted that the “digitalized, connected, and intuitive-to-operate,” Golf is “the first Volkswagen to use swarm intelligence from traffic via Car2X” and “can warn against hazards on an anticipatory basis,’ reports EE Times.

Finally, T-Mobile’s third quarter 2019 earnings report, released Oct. 28, indicates the carrier added 1.7 million subscribers, retaining its status as the fastest-growing US wireless carrier, reports CNET. A press release that accompanied the earnings statement reiterated T-Mobile’s plans to launch 5G nationwide this year using both 600 MHz and mmWave spectrum.

BONUS: In which a Scientific American contributor pans a previous contributor’s warnings about the dangers of 5G as “attempting to circumvent scientific consensus with scaremongering.” Both pieces make for an interesting read.