Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Jio Platforms (JPL) is Flaunting their 5G Wares

In the world where we talk about just two or three major mobile network infrastructure vendors, challengers are rising, either using Open RAN/Networks as their base, innovations as a leverage or the might of a huge population to ensure their network infrastructure has been tested in the most extreme of scenarios. Jio Platforms (JPL) is probably relying on all the three conditions listed above. 

Jio Platforms Ltd. is an Indian technology company and a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, headquartered in Mumbai, India. Jio Platforms has an end to end 5G solution consisting of 5G Radio, a complete 5G Core Network, AI/ML ATOM platform for 4G/5G, MANO for cloud CNF orchestration, ACI for cloud infrastructure deployment as well as the Cloud-native OSS Platforms.

In addition to these core platforms, Jio Platforms has also created its own cloud-native probing solutions for radio and core networks, simplifying network debugging and not requiring any systems integration with probe providers. To enable a SaaS-based model, JPL has also developed a sophisticated array of BSS solutions.

The entire product line is cloud native and can be deployed either on a public cloud or a private cloud.

In the recently concluded MWC 2023, Jio Platforms sponsored quite a few tracks and spoke in some as well. Aayush Bhatnagar, SVP of Technology at Jio Platforms gave a fantastic presentation in the track, '5G Advanced, Ready for Take-Off!'. His talk is embedded below:

Video courtesy of 6G World

While Jio relied on Airspan (for small cells) and Samsung for 4G/LTE networks, for 5G Jio has partnered with Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Cisco, Microsoft, etc.

Ericsson's press release mentioned that it will supply: Ericsson’s energy-efficient 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions (from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio) and E-band microwave mobile transport solutions will be deployed in the 5G network for Jio.

Nokia's press release mentioned that it will supply: Equipment from its AirScale portfolio, including base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO antennas, and Remote Radio Heads (RRH) to support different spectrum bands, and self-organizing network software.

Telecom TV has a good summary of Jio Platforms presentation from DTW2022 (a version of their presentation video is available here). The JPL speakers mentioned that the company always had in mind that it wouldn’t be developing platforms, cloud-native functions and applications just for itself – it always had the broader market within India, and beyond, in mind. This was the reason they adopted a platforms-as-products (PaPs) strategy to its R&D.

It's yet to be seen how equipment from JPL interworks with ones from Nokia, Ericsson and everyone else. Right now Reliance Jio is busy launching 5G in more and more cities. The speeds, quality of experience and reliability will be the judge of their network and and a catalyst for adoption of Jio Platforms.

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Thursday, 16 March 2023

5G to Help Greenland Connect Over Vast Distances

Greenland, an island of just 56,000 people, is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has broad autonomy. Greenland has, by law, only one service provider for telecommunications and the Internet, TELE Greenland, which is fully owned by the Greenlandic Home Rule government. TELE Greenland provides switched telephone and data, land mobile communications, and VHF and MF shore-to-ship communication. This type of monopoly is not uncommon in Greenland.

The state-owned TELE Greenland A/S Group was the main telecommunication and postal provider in Greenland and its headquarters are in Nuuk. It also operated the only mobile network in the country. TELE Greenland A/S was rebranded as Tusass in 2021 and all phone and postal services are under the Tusass label now. Tusass is Greenlandic slang for "talk to you later".

2G and 3G is on 900 MHz, 4G has started 2013 in Nuuk on 800 MHz (band 20) and is in these towns in 2015: Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Ilulissat, Sisimiut, Maniitsoq, Aasiaat and airport Kangerlussusuaq. Every settlement with more than 70 inhabitants has at least 2G coverage, but most areas of the country are uninhabited. Detailed coverage maps you can find here. At the end of 2018 their 4G/LTE coverage has risen to 92% of the population.

Ericsson has been contracted by Tusass to build a 5G network in Greenland, initially covering three towns. A further 10 towns, including Greenland’s capital Nuuk, are set to follow next.

Deploying Ericsson equipment and Netgear routers, Tusass intends to bring high-speed wireless internet to the sparsely populated island without resorting to expensive and hard-to-deploy cables.Tusass says it plans to invest around 1 billion Danish crowns ($131.3 million) to secure and expand Greenland's infrastructure and improve communication.

According to Jenny Lindqvist, head of Northern and Central Europe, Ericsson, a 5G network will help those living in Greenland “connect over vast distances,” a necessity in a country considered to be the least densely populated territory in the world. Only 56,000 people live in Greenland’s 2.16 million square kilometers.

“From a broad perspective, this partnership serves the digitalization of Greenland, from enabling use cases for control of critical infrastructure and remote devices to bringing new entertainment services for the people,” Lindqvist said. “Regardless of how challenging the project is or extreme the weather conditions, Ericsson remains committed to create a wireless Greenland together with Tusass.” 

In December 2022 Tusass revealed that it is planning to shut down its 3G services in 2023, in line with global trends. Tusass said that it took the decision to discontinue the technology ‘because spare parts are no longer produced, because support services are no longer provided and new technologies surpass the efficiency and quality of the old ones’. The operator disclosed that it will notify customers at least three months before the fixed shutdown date.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Nepal is Taking Right Steps in Direction of 5G

Unfortunately Nepal's telecom sector has several topographical and economic constraints which have impeded efforts to expand network infrastructure and improve the quality of service for end-users.

The fixed line market remains underdeveloped, and as a result most traffic is channelled via mobile networks. Fixed broadband penetration remains very low, though to address this the government has initiated several programs as part of the Digital Nepal Framework and the wider Optical Fibre Backbone Network Expansion Project, started in 2012. Supported by the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund, the programs include building out fibre backbone infrastructure and using this to provide broadband to schools and community centres nationally.

Operators have also invested in fibre networks, and competition in the market is intensifying. Cheap fibre-based services launched by CG Net in mid-2021 prompted responses from other ISPs to provide faster and more competitively priced offers.

Nepal’s mobile market is relatively developed, with a focus on LTE. In 2021, the regulator considered a range of spectrum bands which could be used for 5G.

Nepal has three GSM mobile operators: Nepal Telecom (state owned), Ncell (owned by Axiata) and Smart Cell (by Smart Telecom, limited coverage on 2G, 4G/LTE; no 3G).

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz. In 2016 the government of Nepal begun the process of converting existing wireless licences to technology neutral permits, enabling operators to use their current 900 MHz for 3G and free their 1800 MHz (B3) frequency holdings to offer 4G/LTE services. 4G/LTE has been launched by all three providers in 2017. Due to its mountainous territory, coverage can be very spotty and data speeds extremely slow outside the Kathmandu central valley or Pokhara.

Nepal Telecom (NTC) is the state owned, national provider in Nepal. It has a monopoly on landlines and broadband, but competes with Ncell for mobile customers. 

NTC uses 900 Mhz for 2G and 2100 Mhz for 3G. Simultaneously, it runs a CDMA network too which will be switched off by 2021. GSM-coverage is slightly lower than Ncell. Until 2017 only about 60 3G sites have been installed and on air including Banepa, Bhaktapur, total 59 sites in Kathmandu and 1 site in Pokhara.

4G/LTE has started as first provider in Nepal in 2017 on 1800 MHz (B3) only in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara only opened for prepaid. NTC signed 40,000 LTE users in two weeks alone. In 2019/20 the 4G network was expanded and it has 4G coverage at these locations.

Nepal Telecom has a total of 18.95 million mobile broadband users where 7.26 million are 3G users, 11.55 million are 4G users and 136,573 are EVDO users. Just last year Nepal Telecom (NT) marked its 18th anniversary by announcing the commercial launch of VoLTE services, enabling customers with a compatible handset to enjoy high definition voice calling over its 4G network and simultaneous use of voice and high speed data services.

Nepal Telecom had originally planned to kick off 5G trials in mid-July 2021, but the timetable was delayed after a change of government prevented assignment of the additional spectrum resources required. Having finally been granted a testing permit and 60MHz of frequencies in the 2600MHz band the following November, NT then encountered further problems with equipment delivery, while plans to finally start the trial last month were thwarted by the extremely low number of compatible devices. The operator intends to launch test networks in all seven provinces of the country by the end of its current financial year (mid-July 2023).

Ncell is the no.2 in Nepal with a total of 8.88 million mobile broadband users where 1.93 million are 3G users and 6.95 million are 4G users.

Its 2G is on 900 and 1800 Mhz and reaches 90% of population, 3G is on 2100 Mhz in about 20 of the biggest towns. Ncell Coverage Map. Ncell is the better provider in the country, but there are still many areas uncovered and don't expect high speeds.

The start of their 4G/LTE was further delayed in 2017 by taxation issues and was finally launched in June 2017 on 900 and 1800 MHz in the Kathmandu Valley, including the areas of Nagarkot, Banepa and Dhulikhel. In summer 2017 the cites of Biratnagar, Birtamode, Damak, Dharan, Bharatpur, Hetauda, Birjung, Bhairahawa, Butwal and Nepalgunj were added to the 4G/LTE network. In 2019 seven of the country’s provinces and over 1,000 locations nationwide are covered, making it Nepal’s most extensive 4G network.

In September 2022 they announced the commercial launch of their VoLTE service, providing customers with superior quality HD voice and faster call connectivity. The new service is activated free of charge and is currently available on selected Samsung, Vivo and Huawei handsets. Customers enabling the service will receive 100 bonus minutes of on-net talk time valid for 28 days. Launched in June 2017, Ncell’s LTE network has been expanded to areas of more than 70 districts and now covers approximately 85% of the country’s population.

Smart Telecom is the third telecom operator in the country, they only has 2G and 4G services in its Smart Cell brand. They have a total of 127,551 subscribers to their 4G service.

They are on 2G/GSM on 1800 MHz. In 2017 a license to use 4G/LTE was granted to Smart and in October 2017 Smart has finally launched its long-awaited 4G/LTE service, with the company stating that it is now live in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Pokhara. The new 4G service offers customers speeds of up to 70 Mbps. Smart Telecom has been granted 10 MHz of frequencies in the 1800 MHz (B3), while its two competitors Nepal Telecom (NT) and Ncell have only been allocated 5 MHz each in this spectrum band.

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Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Energy and Carbon Footprint Reduction are a Priority for Orange

At Huawei's Mobile Broadband Forum (#HWMBBF) 2022 in October, Emmanuel Chautard, SVP of Operations & Networks Economics at Orange Group presented their vision on transitioning 'Towards a Green, Software-based Telco'.

During his talk he mentioned that to fight global warming, Orange has identified three areas of concern:

  1. The carbon footprint does not scale with traffic and there is no proportional relation between them
  2. A major element source of greenhouse emissions is the customer device which can have a big impact on carbon footprint reduction.
  3. Finally, ICT and softwarization can have a positive contribution to the overall carbon footprint impact for the society and for the other verticals and industries.

Devices, on the other hand has a huge impact on carbon footprint reduction. An article on the group page highlights that it takes around 70kg of raw material to make a 120g smartphone (500 times its weight!). Raw material has to take four turns around the world before the phone arrives in our hands.

In his talk Emmanuel highlighted that Orange is reviewing how devices are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. To support this fact he shared French regulator statistics showing that more than 75% of the carbon emissions are associated with the devices whereas the share for Network traffic is reduced to 6% for overall network and data centers consume 16% of the overall energy. Hence according to them, one quick win would be to increase the lifetime of the customer devices and focus on recycling.

The final area that we are touching in this post is Orange's transition towards software-based Telco. 

This softwarization, as can be seen in the picture above, is based on four pillars. The first being disaggregation, which is the fact that Orange plans to no longer implement black boxes within their networks as they have traditionally done. The journey towards identifying the software layer, the OS, and the infrastructure layer has started with the introduction to virtualization and deploying several Network functions on the same Cloud infrastructure. 

In addition, the softwarization journey continues further with Automation, AI and Machine Learning in order to support both the life-cycle management and the in-life management of the network. Introduction of software with APIs that are exposed Network APIs is expected to enable the on-demand network connectivity that their customers have started expecting.

Emmanuel also talked about the 100% software-enabled experimental network in Lannion, in the Britany department of France, which was announced in a press release back in June 2021 by Mavenir. The press release had noted that "This first phase of a two-year project is a key pillar in Orange’s preparations to transition towards more efficient and agile cloud-native zero-touch Open RAN networks."

The talk of the video is embedded below:

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Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Optus' Living Network

Optus launched their Living Network in May 2021 and its certainly a most innovative venture. Unlike previous networks, this was described as an evolved network. Designed to be dynamic and 'customer-centric' to suit the unique needs of each customer by offering a range of service features and initiatives in areas such as advanced connectivity, security, productivity, environmental sustainability and social causes.


The Living Network features are available to Optus customers from the MyOptus App and include Unlimited Data Days, Donate Your Data, Optus Pause, WiFi Secure, Game Path, Call Translate, Call Notes, Optus Pulse and SideKick. Optus has also categorised it’s Living Network features by Digital Wellbeing, Adaptive Network and Advanced Voice.

One aspect of Digital Wellbeing is closing the digital divide and promoting sustainability. Donate your data is a way to help close the digital divide for people in need get a prepaid SIM with data plus unlimited calls and SMS every 42 days. Every month, Optus data donations are pooled and then distributed as an added data boost to those who need it. Optus postpaid customers can donate a portion of their monthly data via the MyOptus App. Prepay customers on select tariffs can also donate a portion of their data. The operator has partnered with a number of charities to deliver this service to people experiencing economic hardship from a job loss, family or other tragedy.

Optus claim over 28 million GB of data has been donated since December 2019. The donated data helps individuals (and since 2021) helps families in need to access vital education, employment, and other services.

At the launch of the Living Network Optus CEO, Kelly Bayer stated that the program had so far assisted over “14,000 young Australians in need” and attributed the initiative to achieving an NPS that was “off the charts” highlighting that customers felt empowered by the Living Network to shrink the digital divide and make a difference to others lives.


Meanwhile an inventive aspect of the Adaptive Network is Game Path. This service reduces lag by 30% (as well as jitter by an average 71%) when gaming by accessing multiple local and international points of presence (POPs) and using AI to select the optimal connection path however, manual server selection is also possible. The service which is activated via the MyOptus app is only available on windows PCs and costs AUD $10 per month with one-month waiver. Optus internet gamers may receive a three-month waiver. Optus provides a table highlighting the performance improvement customers can expect by game and city based on a sample size (gaming session snapshot) in time but highlight actual performance may still vary.

A feature that enhances customer productivity within the Advanced voice services is Optus Call Translate. This translates voice calls in real-time between two people speaking two different languages to each other. Effectively and as promoted by Optus, the service is “turning two languages into one conversation”. The service is currently available in 19 languages and is built, owned and operated by Optus using Google Cloud (API) for the translation element. While the service was initially trailed in a beta mode with select customers, it is now available to postpay customers (including business) at a cost of AUD $5 per month with a seven-day trial period. The service is activated from the My Optus App along with translation settings such as the “to” and “from” language setting. When a customer calls a number using the translate feature, before the call conversation starts – both parties will hear an announcement saying that the Call Translate is in use. Optus customers can use the service to call overseas, and they can also use it abroad so long as they are roaming on a VoLTE network.

In highlighting the usefulness of the service, Optus points to the multi-lingual country and five million people (20% of Australians) of which English isn’t their first language. Such a service might be valuable when interacting with others to perform everyday functions such as booking a medical appointment.

Other operators have certainly been inspired some of these services and strategies and also launched some of the features seen in the Living Network, in particular drawing on the environment, sustainability and social responsibility as a way to increase relevance, drive an emotional connection and  increase engagement with existing customers and potentially augment their subscriber bases.

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Tuesday, 24 January 2023

AT&T and AST SpaceMobile plan to extend coverage for consumers, businesses & first responders

AT&T has been working with the satellite pioneer AST SpaceMobile for a white as reported by Light Reading back in 2020. In a new video, AT&T gives AST SpaceMobile a big, public shoutout. The video is embedded below.

The following is from CNET article:

T-Mobile has partnered with SpaceX to boost its coverage through SpaceX's Starlink satellite network. Verizon has been talking about working with Amazon's Project Kuiper program. Now AT&T has announced a new satellite partner of its own. 

On Tuesday the carrier announced a new partnership with AST SpaceMobile, a satellite company, to use its low Earth orbit satellites to help bolster AT&T's terrestrial coverage. In a video about the partnership, Chris Sambar, AT&T's president of network, says that the wireless carrier has received "conditional approval" to use some of its wireless spectrum to connect cell phones to the satellites. 

In the video, Sambar quickly goes through a few broad applications ranging from helping its FirstNet first-responder network to business applications like "remote agriculture" and "remote machinery." 

AT&T already has a satellite partnership with satellite company OneWeb to offer connections to the wireless carrier's business users but hadn't announced any consumer-focused satellite service. 

Sambar does, however, hint at a possible consumer application as he describes how his mother-in-law's drive from rural Virginia to Richmond to "see her kids and grandkids" includes a road that currently struggles for coverage from "any wireless carrier." That drive, he says, could potentially be covered by a "space-based mobile solution." 

AT&T tells CNET that it plans to use the service to offer "integrated, complementary and real connectivity from satellite-based solutions for voice, data and video services." 

As for device support, AT&T says the service is "intended to integrate with all of our customers' devices using LTE and 5G broadband on our existing mobile network." The carrier, however, says it is "too early" to say if it will charge extra for the service or include it with customers' existing plans. 

As for when AT&T and AST SpaceMobile's service might start to appear, AST SpaceMobile has previously talked about testing its "direct-to-cell satellite capabilities" during the first quarter of next year before launching its first five commercial satellites in "late 2023." AT&T plans to join this testing in the first quarter. 

Scott Wisniewski, chief strategy officer at AST SpaceMobile, tells CNET in a statement that after the launch of those satellites next year it will be able to "offer intermittent broadband services in 2024." 

Light Reading article points out:

The video is noteworthy because AT&T is one of the biggest wireless network operators in the world, and Sambar controls a large part of the operator's multibillion-dollar network spending budget. The fact that he made a five-minute support video for SpaceMobile will likely go a long way toward convincing regulators and investors to provide both the necessary approvals for SpaceMobile's satellite launch plans as well as the money it will take to get the company's satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO).

It would be interesting to see how all these satellite connectivity complementing the terrestrial networks and connectivity work out. There is a huge potential but the path towards that is a really tough one.

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Friday, 6 January 2023

Dialog Launches First Immersive Metaverse, Futureverse, in Sri Lanka

We may not yet have a firm definition of Metaverse but that hasn't stopped operators launching their own Metaverse. Sri Lanka's Dialog is the latest operator to announce their 'Futureverse'. The press release noted:

Continuing to spearhead technology firsts in the country and the region, Dialog Axiata PLC, launched ‘Futureverse’ – Sri Lanka’s first fully immersive, interactive and experiential Metaverse where people can shop for Dialog products and services, socialize, attend events, and play games in one persistent virtual world.

Futureverse is an immersive and interactive virtual world where users can create their own custom avatars. This virtual world will enable visitors access to all Dialog products and services available at any Dialog Experience Centre, socialize with friends, watch movies, take part in workshops, visit exhibitions, and more. Powered by immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR), the Futureverse, from Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, extends a seemingly borderless digital realm that delivers endless experiences and possibilities, where visitors can experience a unique virtual world filled with abstract landscapes and objects. Futureverse is a fun way to spend free time while interacting with friends virtually through voice or chat.

If you do not know the difference between AR, VR, MR and XR, we suggest you check out our short video here. The following is a video of Futureverse from Dialog:

With MWC just around the corner, we will see a lot more of Metaverse action in the coming weeks and months.

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