Sunday 12 August 2018

San Marino launches first nationwide 5G network

San Marino, said to be the world's oldest surviving republic, is one of the world's smallest countries and the third smallest country in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being smaller. In a population of roughly 35,000 Sammarinese people, they are serviced by 3 mobile operators

Telefonia Mobile Sammarinese (TMS) : It is a telecom company that provides several communication services like GSM (900/1800 MHz), GPRS, EDGE, UMTS (900/2100 MHz), HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, DC-HSPA+. There are 0.019 million subscribers in 2012. The company share is owned by TMS.

TIM San Marino : Founded in 1992 and headquartered at Falciano provides communication services like GSM (900/1800 MHz), GPRS, EDGE, UMTS (900/2100 MHz), HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, DC-HSPA+, LTE (800/1800/2600 MHz), LTE-A. The company share is owned by Telecom Italia San Marino.

San Marino Telecom (SMT). : A telecom company that provides several communication services like GSM (900/1800 MHz), GPRS, EDGE, UMTS (900/2100 MHz), DC-HSPA+, LTE (800/1800 MHz).

The micro-state signed a memorandum of understanding last year with Italian telecoms group TIM to become a 5G guinea pig. Since it only consists of 61 sq km and has more relaxed laws on airwaves it is a far more suitable testing ground for 5G than surrounding Italy. Small territories have been used in the past for telecoms testing. The first 3G trial in the UK took place on the Isle of Man, while the remote Isle of Bute in Scotland was used to test “white space” technology.

Giovanni Ferigo, head of technology for Telecom Italia Mobile, said San Marino’s 5G network would be the first in Europe “for sure”. Mr Ferigo said the work done in San Marino would play a critical role in the future of 5G technology in Italy but was also crucial to the wider European sector as standards for the new network are refined. He argued that Europe was central to the development of 2G technology but lost that leadership position to Far Eastern carriers in 3G and to the US for the 4G upgrade. “For 5G, our intention is a European leadership in standardisation,” he said.

This has now resulted in the activation of the first 5G network hubs in San Marino, in partnership with Nokia and Qualcomm, which included a millimeter wave 5G mobile test device using the Snapdragon X50 modem.

According to Cesare Pisani, TIM San Marino CEO.
“By the end of the summer the first mobile sites will be adapted to the new 5G radio interface, coinciding with the progressive introduction of small cells, small and low power antennas which, connected by fibre optic cable and located in various areas of the country, will provide performance levels unattainable with current technologies, and with minimum environmental impact.”
While Stefano Siragusa, TIM Chief Wholesale Infrastructures, Network and Systems Officer states: 
“Today we have reached a new important milestone, which confirms TIM’s ability to be a leader in innovation processes in the sector, a role we also play at global level, contributing to establishing the 5G standard. By enabling new generation services in San Marino, we are looking forward to the future, paying particular attention to the development of innovative services related to public safety, transport, tourism and Industry 4.0 which enable the Smart City model”.

The presentation of the new services and the first 5G mobile test included live demos of the first 5G services, that will soon be available in the territory of San Marino, for example:

Smart City services, with Smart Parking and Gas & Water Metering applications, built by Olivetti, to bring economic advantages and facilities to the people of San Marino and local companies, as well as solutions to monitor air quality, using IoT sensors placed on urban buses, or Smart Agriculture systems based on the principles of the sharing economy;
Public Security services which, thanks to a system of cameras constantly connected to police stations, will guarantee video surveillance during public events;
Services for Industry 4.0 to provide local industry with integrated system of production and logistics which makes the most of the processing capacity made available by the cloud, with obvious economic and time savings;
Digital tourism services which, using Virtual Reality solutions, allow to explore remotely local sites of artistic and cultural interest, providing an immersive experience.

The gradual adaptation of the 5G network will enable the creation of an ecosystem of local partners, including government bodies of the Republic of San Marino, the University and Research Centres, the Social Security Organisation, the National Tourism Office, Service and Production Companies, the Police Force, with whom TIM will test innovative 5G services for Smart Cities, Public Safety, the Environment, Healthcare, Tourism, Culture, Transport and Media.

Among those present was Marco Podeschi, Secretary of State for Culture and Innovation who commented:
“Thanks to 5G the Republic of San Marino will become a state-of-the-art tourist centre, with the new networks and services using Virtual Reality, our country will in fact become a pole of attraction for digital tourism as well, allowing a growing number of people to appreciate its architectural and cultural beauties, exploring them in an immersive mode, even remotely.” 
Last week, state of San Marino chose ZTE to implement the new state public network and implement a series of technologies for the provision of new-generation services in the smart city sector. The creation of a training center for TLC (San Marino Telecom) technicians and experts is also planned. Spotlight on Expo 2020. More details (in Italian) here and here.

*** Added on 6 Sep 2018 from a presentation by Pierpaolo Marchese, Head of Standard Coordination, Telecom Italia Spa.from URLLC 2018 conference ***

Thursday 9 August 2018

T-Mobile, USA: 5G, LAA & Small Cells

T-Mobile has a bold vision of providing nationwide 5G network. They have 600 MHz band available which can provide them with a nationwide 5G coverage layer but would that be enough? I have done some analysis on this topic on 3G4G blog here. They have a nice video on their 5G vision as shown below:

Recently they have also deployed a 5G tech truck to bring these benefits to end users.

According to TmoNews:

The T-Mobile Tech Truck hit the road today, beginning a journey that’ll take it across the country to help people experience the benefits of 5G as well as other tech being developed by T-Mobile. The exhibit will include connected drones, interactive displays to show how smart cities will become cleaner and more efficient, and AR and VR experiences that T-Mo says will improve how we communicate.

In addition to 5G, T-Mobile has been deploying small cells with LAA or License Assisted Access. This is helping them reach Gigabit LTE.

With Verizon and AT&T working towards 5G in high throughput mmWave band both T-Mobile and Sprint can differentiate themselves with nationwide 5G. In fact this is the main value proposition for T-Mo and Sprint merger, that they complement each other with regards to 5G bands and if they merge than US could be 5G leader.

Source: ZDnet

We will have to wait and see who wins the 5G race in the USA.

Related Posts:

Sprint: Small Cells and 5G

Sprint has been in news for their small cells and 5G, in addition to possible merger with T-Mobile. In a recent blog post, Jon Saw, CTO of Sprint mentioned that they have over 15,000 outdoor small cells and over 65,000 magic boxes. Here are some links regarding small cells:

Sprint are also building on their legacy TD-LTE experience to deploy massive MIMO for LTE and 5G. The fact that Sprint has a lot of 2.5 GHz spectrum will help them massively in 5G rollouts.

To make their subscribers aware of their 5G vision, they have also created a new Sprint 5G YouTube channel. The playlist below expands further on their vision.

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Wednesday 8 August 2018

Saudi Arabia: Innovation and Loss

There are three main operators in Saudi Arabia: STC, Mobily and Zain. All three operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate, and each one competes with the others to offer the best deals. Their services have all been tried and tested by both locals and travelers, so they can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s connectivity report, Saudi Arabia’s coverage is extremely good around the main highways and developed areas, but it can suffer a great deal the more you head towards the deserts and remote regions. However, it isn’t just a local problem, it will happen on all phones and providers you use there. There are 2G, 3G and 4G plans available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. Recently a 2.9 per cent drop in mobile users to 39 million has been projected, due to the implementation of economic reforms, which will push down the penetration rate to 123 per cent, compared with a 16 per cent year-on-year decline in 2017, where the penetration rate reached 127 per cent. 

STC as the largest player in the market holds somewhere between 52%-54% of the market, the rest is being shared between Zain and Mobily. Zain in its recent announcement highlighted that its subscribers base at the end of Q1-2018 stood at 8.4mn, depicting a market share of 18%. Leaving Mobily with a market share in the range of 28%to 30%.
STC (Saudi Telecom Company, mostly owned by the state) is the largest provider in Saudi Arabia, and it offers the best network coverage and Internet speeds.The latest STC report revealed that the number of mobile services users reached 40 million subscribers by the end of last year. Prices and packages are extremely competitive, and STC offers many deals and promotions to entice both locals and visitors. It started with LTE in 2010 and covers around 90% of population by 2015, which is only concentrated in a few towns on 1800 MHz (band 3) and 2300 MHz in TD-LTE (band 30).

Mobily, partly owned by Etisalat, is the 2nd provider in Saudi-Arabia. It still gives good coverage and speeds in populated areas. 4G/LTE is in city centers only: coverage check on 1800 in FD-LTE and 2600 MHz in TD-LTE. Mobily has said the introduction of the fingerprint registration rule led to an "erosion" of its customer base. The requirement was introduced last year by the Communications and Information Technology Commission, who instructed all SIM cards issued in Saudi Arabia to be linked to a fingerprint record held at the National Information Center.

Zain is the smallest provider in the country with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Network coverage and Internet speeds are good around the main towns and cities, but as with all providers in Saudi Arabia, the signal will struggle as you head toward the desert regions. 4G is on 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz, all on FD-LTE, partly with three-band aggregation like in Jeddah. Zain offers the lowest rates in the Kingdom right now.

However Zain Saudi’s lost around 1.7 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2018, falling 17 percent to 8.4 million. The company said this was in line with a country-wide decrease and as a result of the government’s biometric identification project (which reduced the number of pre-paid SIMs to two per ID).

Zain has selected Ericsson to develop and test selected 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) cases. The new partnership will accelerate digitalization in the region, enabling rapid deployment of innovative services in the Internet of Things (IoT) in the coming years.
The 5G and IoT agreement covers live demonstrations and strengthens technical cooperation between the two companies and will ensure smooth 4G to 5G evolution across Zain’s networks.Bader Al Kharafi, Group CEO of Zain, said: 
“5G will open the door for new applications that will transform consumer behavior and industries. By introducing these new technologies, we will enrich the digital lifestyles of individuals and support the growth and development of businesses.”
In addition to the three main mobile operators, Saudi Operators also host couple of MVNOs. Lebara Mobile Saudi Arabia uses Mobily Network and Virgin Mobile KSA is hosted by STC.

Further Reading:

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Friday 3 August 2018

AT&T: Lessons learned from 5G Trials

Dave Wolter, AVP, Radio Technology & Strategy, AT&T Labs, Inc spoke at the 5G New Horizons event back in May and talked about lessons learned from 5G trials.  I wrote about AT&T trials couple of years back. In the last couple of years, there are a lot of lessons learned. Here is the video: