Friday 29 June 2018

Elisa claims "first in world to launch commercial 5G" - technical details and controversy

The Finnish & Estonian mobile operator Elisa staked the claim for "first in world to launch commercial 5G". Their press release states: 

Elisa has become the first operator in the world to begin commercial use of a 5G network and starts selling 5G subscriptions. The 5G network was used for the first time to make a video call to Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in Estonia. The video call is yet another historical achievement by Elisa: the first GSM telephone call in the world was also made using Elisa’s network. 

The world’s first commercial 5G networks were launched today in Tampere and Tallinn.

–  We aim to make Finland the leading nation as a developer of 5G mobile services. The Ministry of Communications is ready to allocate the first 5G licences to the 3,400–3,800 megahertz frequency band in autumn, which will make Finland among the first countries in the world to start building 5G networks, says Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications.

5G will offer several new features to users of mobile services. For instance, 5G enables considerably faster data speeds and lower latency, as well as allowing a significantly larger number of devices to connect to the network.  This higher speed benefited the video call made over the world’s first commercial 5G network. Elisa, together with Huawei, used the first commercial 5G terminal devices in the world to make the call.

I blogged earlier about Ooredoo, STC and Etisalat staking the claim for world's first 5G networks. At least the press release by Ooredoo and Etisalat did mention the word "Commercial".
Elisa's press release mentions that the licenses are yet to be allocated. Last year, the Finnish regulator FICORA issued 13 radio licences in slices of up to 100 MHz in the 3.5GHz band and up to 1,000 MHz in the 26GHz band. At that time, Elisa was already working with Nokia on 5G showing off peak data speeds were 1.5GBps and the lowest latency was 1.5 milliseconds.

This launch is with Huawei and Elisa was able to show up to 2.2Gbps. There is a picture of base station here for anyone interested.

According to this FierceWireless News:

Elisa said that together with Huawei, it used the first commercial 5G terminal devices in the world to make the call. In an email, Eetu Prieur, Elisa’s head of mobile technology, described the devices as wireless 5G routers.

At the moment, the 5G network covers the city center in Tampere and Tallin, according to Prieur. The operator is offering two subscription alternatives: unlimited data with unlimited voice for €49.90/month (about $57 U.S.) and unlimited data (voice not included) for €44.90/month (about $52 U.S.)

So this is more of a Fixed-Wireless Access kind of deployment with wireless routers backhauling on to 5G network. I am assuming the voice calls are more of VoWiFi or app based calling.

See Also:

Thursday 28 June 2018

APAC's 32 largest operators ranked by revenue

You have probably seen the map above. It shows there are more people in this circle than outside. Its also where many huge telecom operators are located. Well, Asia-Pacific or APAC is much bigger than what you see above. See this pic below.

Total Telecom just published a list of 32 top operators in this region by revenue. Here is the list.

Mobile In Tokyo makes a good point (tweet below) that even though Japan is roughly 1/10th of China by population, the 3 Japanese operators generate 37% of revenue in Asia.

In other interesting analysis in the article:

India contributes the most operators to the Asia 32 table with five representatives, but its revenue share is just over 5%, down slightly on the previous report. As detailed in the full Global 100 report, India's telcos are experiencing more than their fair share of difficulties, with Reliance Communications and Tata Communications both pulling out of retail telecoms on the back of fierce competition from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm. Jio will also be a newcomer to the Global 100 in the next report. It generated revenues of 239.16 billion rupees in the year to the end of March 2018, which equates to around €3 billion and would afford it 22nd place in the current Asia-Pacific ranking and 65th in the full Global 100.

There was a newcomer to the current Asia 32 table in the form of Malaysia-based Axiata, which ranks 17th in the Asia-Pacific and 51st in the overall Global 100. There were previously just 31 representatives of the Asia-Pacific region in the Global 100.

The region's overall revenue total came in around €1 billion higher than in the previous ranking, with the Asia 32 together generating €502.3 billion. The Asia-Pacific accounted for 36% of total Global 100 revenues, down from 38% two years earlier.

You can read the complete article here.

Total Telecom's Global 100 report is available here.

In related news, according to Telecom TV:

Asia Pacific is on track to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025, led by pioneering 5G markets such as Australia, China, Japan and South Korea, according to the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report. Launches of commercial 5G networks in these markets beginning next year will see the Asia region reach 675 million 5G connections by 2025, more than half of the global 5G total expected by that point. Asia’s move to state-of-the-art mobile broadband networks reflects the mobile ecosystem’s growing value to the region’s economy. According to the report, Asia’s mobile industry added $1.5 trillion in economic value last year, equivalent to 5.4 per cent of regional GDP.

The latest GSMA Mobile Economy report is available here.

Sunday 24 June 2018

Ethiopia: Finally opening up

Ethiopia’s state owned telecommunications company, Ethio Telecom is currently Africa's largest mobile operator.
According to IT Web’s report with over 57 million mobile subscribers as at November 2017, Ethio Telecom had beat MTN Nigeria to become Africa’s largest in terms of its mobile customer base.

A sector expert was quoted to have said:
“Ethio Telecom of Ethiopia is now the largest mobile operator in Africa in terms of subscriptions, with 57.34 million mobile subscriptions at end-2Q17. Ethiopia is also one of the very few African countries that has not liberalised its telecoms market and introduced competition, so Ethio Telecom has a monopoly,” 
An expansion drive costing over $1.6 billion in the last few years has contributed greatly to this success. According to a statement on their website: 
"The expansion project has also significantly improved quality of services, with customers enjoying 3G wireless services by upgrading the 2G network across all regions covering all over the country; with also 4G LTE, super-fast services, launched in Addis Ababa. Over the past few years, Ethio Telecom has been transforming itself to meet its vision of becoming a world class operator and our journey so far shows we are on the right track.”

The company reports that 64.4 million of its customers are mobile phone subscribers, and 1.2 million are fixed line users. The company's internet service users have also reached 16 million. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation behind Nigeria and the numbers are believed to have played a significant part.

The other reason for this success is the strictly regulated economy of Ethiopia and the government til date has not liberalized the telecoms sector resulting in Ethio Telecom having a monopoly as the state-owned and only operator

However the currently government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is attempting to open up the economy and has announced plans split state-run monopoly Ethio Telecom in two and gradually sell shares in both entities to top telecoms companies in a bid to increase competition.The PM has said: 

“…If Somalia with 12 million population has four telecom operators, Ethiopia with over a hundred million population has to also open its doors to multiple telecom operators,” 
Under the plan, a total stake of between 30 per cent to 40 per cent in Ethio Telecom will be sold to operators, provided they are rated as top ten players globally.

The Ethiopian government also routinely cuts the internet mainly for political but also academic reasons.To forestall the leakage of key university entrance exams, the authorities blocked the internet in the past. Activists have slammed the government repeatedly for cutting off the internet because they wanted to control the spread of information and materials relating to anti-government protests and human rights abuse.

A more privatized sector and less governmental interference will hopefully prevent this. 

Both MTN and Vodacom see potential for growth in the Ethiopian market. An MTN spokesperson states:
"MTN has long held the view that Ethiopia offers great opportunities for growth, both for the people of Ethiopia and for the businesses that could serve them, through the liberalisation of the telecommunication market in that country. MTN is excited by the potential opening up of the Ethiopian market as it would be a natural fit for MTN's existing and extensive Pan-African footprint. MTN's licence to provide value-added services in Ethiopia was recently renewed and we continue to maintain an office in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia presents many exciting telecommunication opportunities and we look forward to further discussions with that nation's authorities on potential partnerships and opportunities."
MTN operates in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, and Vodacom operates in five African nations.

While Vodacom have said
"Ethiopia is an attractive market so it follows that there would be interest. Naturally, this is dependent on what might become available and if it fits within our investment parameters." 
However PM Ahmed Abiy also clarified the conditions for selling shares in the state telco: 
“Certain amounts of shares will be sold gradually in 10, 20, 30 years. We are not giving it up in one go, it is not possible.”
Ethiopians will be offered 5% in the new companies, and between 30% and 40% will be sold to telecoms operators that are top-10 players globally. There’ll be at least a year or two of “intensive study”, he said in televised comments. 

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Sunrise Communications Overview

A short summary of Sunrise Communications from a presentation by Aaron Pearce

As can be seen seen in the picture above, SBB, UBS and Migros started NewtelcoAG. Then in 1997 British Telecom and Tele Danmark joined Newtelco as partners and investors and launched the Sunrise brand. Since then Sunrise has just been going from strength to strength. In 2016, Sunrise celebrated 20 years of success and was also the winner of the “connect” network test with a record score and the only provider to be awarded a rating of “OUTSTANDING.”

In fact in an Opensignal report on Switzerland last year, Sunrise won the crown for fastest download speeds while Swisscom had the best coverage.

In a nutshell, Sunrise is the largest private telecommunications provider in Switzerland with convergent solutions from one source as can be seen in the picture above.