News Feature | July 8, 2019

The Week in 5G: 7/8/2019 — London's 5G Rollout Seemingly Successful, Trump Yields to Huawei, SK Telecom Eyes 6G Future

By Ed Biller

  • Because the author was out of the office for a week, and RF Globalnet did not send a newsletter on Independence Day, this edition of The Week in 5G might more appropriately be titled Late June and Early July in 5G. We’ll be back to our regular schedule next week, starting with the 7/16/2019 edition. Thanks for your understanding!

According to The Guardian’s consumer technology editor, EE’s 5G network across London is performing as advertised, both in terms of speed and coverage. Samuel Gibbs describes “blistering” download speeds — up to 500 Mbps at times — and at least double the speed of current 4G services, even in the city’s most congested areas.

“It is very early days for 5G in the UK, but it still feels like we’re more prepared for 5G than we were for the similar transition to 4G and 3G before that,” Gibbs writes.

Vodafone is hot on EE’s heels, switching on its first UK-based 5G network last week, reports Bloomberg. Three's 5G network is set to go live this August, aiming first to supply a 5G home broadband service, reports AndroidCentral. Three UK wants to have mobile and home 5G service live in 25 towns/cities by the end of 2019, and is unafraid to use Huawei gear to achieve that goal.

In the Philippines, Globe Telecom will begin offering 5G wireless broadband for homes this month, Bloomberg reports. The company claims this is the first commercially available internet with such speed in Southeast Asia. There is no official indication, but it is believed Huawei contributed technology to the rollout.

In its home country, Huawei is set up for success: China is expected to invest over $150 billion in its 5G networks through 2025, reported Xinhua, that nation’s China’s state-run news agency.

Further, on U.S. soil, President Donald J. Trump backpedaled on his administration’s Huawei ban late in June, just before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

“Huawei is something that is very dangerous,” Trump said, before adding “it’s possible that Huawei would be included in a trade deal. If we made a deal, I can imagine Huawei being included in some form or some part of a trade deal.”

The remarks directly contradicted the months-long mission to which Trump had set U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — attempting to convince other nations to similarly ban Huawei equipment — notes the New York Times in its report. Pres. Trump cowed to China’s ZTE under similar circumstances earlier this year.

In india, though, Huawei still is encountering resistance after a scientific advisor to the Indian government opposed any Chinese vendor’s participation in India’s ongoing 5G trials, reports Times of India.

Returning to the U.S., GCI will team with Ericsson to make Anchorage the first city in Alaska to offer 5G wireless network service, reports the Juneau Empire.

Far to the south, AT&T Business and Samsung Electronics America unveiled their Texas-based manufacturing-focused 5G Innovation Zone last week, offering a peek at some of the applications they’ll be testing at Samsung Austin Semiconductor (also a partner in the endeavor), a semiconductor fabrication facility.

Use cases will include health and environmental sensors — for example, for first responders, automated material handling, industrial IoT, and robotics to support factory automation; and mixed reality for training employees.

To access all of these 5G networks about a dozen 5G phones currently are available or are set to be released in the near future, reports Digital Trends. At the current adoption rate, market research firm Canalys predicts that 5G-enabled smartphones will overtake 4G handsets (i.e., grab more than half of market share) in 2023. Canalys predicts that almost 800 million 5G handsets will be shipped in 2023, and more than 1.9 billion of them will reach consumers over the next five years.

In South Korea — proving it’s never too soon to start thinking of next-generation technology — SK Telecom inked memorandums of understanding with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to conduct joint R&D projects aimed partially at “technical requirements and business models for 6G,” reports VentureBeat.

It is expected that terahertz spectrum — the sub-millimeter wave range from 300MHz to 3THz — will be the key to sixth-generation communications, notes the report.

In regulatory news, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission gears keep turning to auction spectrum. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a June 18 blog post that mid-band spectrum is to be next up for grabs.

"On July 10, the commission will vote on an order that will modernize an outdated regulatory regime for the 2.5GHz band… The new framework will ... also provide opportunities for Tribal Nations and others to obtain access to unused 2.5GHz spectrum."

Meanwhile, in Hungary, regulator NMHH recently published draft documentation for its 5G spectrum auction later this year, which will put 400 megahertz of spectrum up for bid and is expected to raise about $244M, reports Reuters.