YOU ARE AT:Archived Articles#TBT: AT&T turns up NB-IoT; China Unicom trials 5G; Softbank invests in...

#TBT: AT&T turns up NB-IoT; China Unicom trials 5G; Softbank invests in Loon … this week in 2019

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

AT&T turns up NB-IoT

AT&T has officially launched its narrowband internet of things network in the U.S., which joins its existing LTE-M network to add a second low-power wide-area network option for IoT uses. In a blog post from Chris Penrose, SVP for AT&T IoT Solutions, he wrote that the expansion of IoT network options “will help unlock the next wave of IoT connections” and is “a big step toward massive IoT and 5G.” The carrier said that it will expand NB-IoT connectivity to its network in Mexico later this year, which Penrose said would be “the start of a unique North American footprint.” Penrose said that NB-IoT, which was deployed via an upgrade to AT&T’s existing LTE network sites, is “optimized for stationary use cases with basic data requirements”: simple sensors, smoke detectors, door locks, industrial monitors, smart agriculture uses, and so on. LTE-M, meanwhile, has higher bandwidth and the ability for full mobility and voice as well as firmware and software updates, according to AT&T. Penrose said that some of the device types deployed on its LTE-M network include medical wearables, utility meters, pet trackers and devices for asset management. “With NB-IoT, we now have two complementary Low-Power Wide Area networks – including  our LTE-M network in the U.S. and Mexico. Both networks are designed for the IoT within licensed spectrum and provide carrier-grade security,” Penrose wrote, adding “Having both networks offers our business customers more options to implement IoT solutions with security, interoperability, and lower costs.” … Read more

FCC sets up speedier rural broadband

More than 100,000 rural homes and businesses in 43 states will get a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds, rather than 10 Mbps/1 Mbps speeds that would otherwise have been deployed, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Forty percent of the locations are expected to be covered by 2022, with deployment then increasing 10% each year until they are complete in 2028. The FCC said that under new rules adopted late last year, it will pay out an additional $65.7 million in annual support over the next decade to the 186 companies that have agreed to deploy expanded 25 Mbps internet service, rather than the slower 10 Mbps speeds. This is through the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program, which was originally devised in 2016 as a voluntary program and which has recently had its payment rates and deployment obligations revised. On a nationwide basis, A-CAM commitments to deploy 25 Mbps speeds grew from 334,443 locations to 440,808 locations with the additional funding, representing a nearly 32% increase in the number of locations that will have faster internet speeds than expected, the FCC said. According to the FCC, the new A-CAM rules will in some cases double the deployment commitments — mostly in cases where those deployments were small to begin with. … Read more

Network sharing for 5G

5G networks require significant investment from operators in more fiber and more network infrastructure gear and sites. In an effort to deploy 5G as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, some operators are cooperating with competitors. Commercial 5G availability is currently offered by SK Telecom and KT. Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported in January that SK, KT LG Uplus and SK Broadband will share the deployment costs, which will save nearly $1 billion over a decade. “Our is goal is to lead the fourth industrial revolution and to support the early commercialization of 5G technology,” Jun Sung-bae, a senior ICT ministry official, said, according to Yonhap. Now, in Spain, Vodafone and Orange are similarly cooperating to “provide a better service to customers, help us address coverage requirements faster and more efficiently and also reduce the industry’s environmental impact,” Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Read said. “As we approach a 5G world, we have a window of opportunity to design networks with other operators who share our passion for quality and coverage.” The two operators have been cooperating since 2006 on sharing passive infrastructure across the country and active infrastructure in new a towns of up to 25,000 residents. Per the new arrangement, now the Voda and Orange will share RAN and backhaul networks in cities of up to 175,000 people. … Read more

China Unicom trials 5G

Chinese mobile operator China Unicom announced plans to launch a 5G trial network in seven major cities across the country, local press reported. The carrier said that the trials will be carried in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou and urban Xiong’an New Area. The carrier’s chairman, Wang Xiaochu, confirmed at a company event that 5G coverage will be made available in 33 cities across China and the company will also deploy a 5G private network and create 5G application scenarios in several cities. China Unicom has formed a 5G application alliance bringing together 32 industrial players including automaker Dongfeng Motor, heavy industry manufacturer ZPMC, equipment maker Huawei and internet company Alibaba, according to local press reports. China Unicom has also signed an agreement with the Shanghai government aimed at improving the city’s fiber optic broadband networks and high-speed mobile communication networks. Under the terms of the agreement, China Unicom will invest CNY 15 billion ($2.24 billion) in Shanghai by 2021. The city, which already hosts 500 5G stations, is looking to build itself into a 5G pioneering venue. It aims to construct 10,000 5G base stations by the end of this year and 30,000 by 2021. … Read more

Softbank JV invests in Loon

Alphabet spin-off Loon, which relies on high-altitude balloons and drones to provide wireless internet service to terrestrial users, has snagged $125 million in investment from Softbank joint venture HAPSMobile. The companies say that they are “actively exploring commercial collaborations to accelerate the deployment of high altitude network connectivity solutions, with a focus on expanding mobile internet penetration, enabling internet of things applications, and assisting in the deployment of 5G.” As part of the deal, Loon has the right to invest $125 million in HAPSMobile in the future. HAPSMobile is a joint venture between Softbank and California-based company AeroVironment; Softbank owns 95% of the JV, which was formed in late 2017 to develop solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance, or HALE, unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial operations; HALEs are also known as high-altitude pseudo-satellites, or HAPS. AeroVironment said that it has completed development of Hawk 30, which it describes as an “aircraft-type stratospheric telecommunications platform.” The company has a history of developing drones for NASA. Loon said that it brings technical leadership to the partnership through an its own high-altitude vehicle and communications system, which it said has flown more 30 million kilometers and “connected hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.” “Building a telecommunications network in the stratosphere, which has not been utilized by humankind so far, is uncharted territory and a major challenge for SoftBank,” said Junichi Miyakawa, representative director and CTO of SoftBank, who also serves as president and CEO of HAPSMobile. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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