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#TBT: KT plans 5G launch; Verizon tests mmWave; Sprint’s Magic Box is hot … this week in 2017

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!

KT plans its 5G launch

HONG KONG–South Korean mobile carrier KT confirmed plans to launch commercial 5G services in 2019, the company’s SVP of network strategy, YongGyoo Lee, said during a keynote presentation at Qualcomm’s 4G/5G Summit. The executive said that KT’s 5G deployment plans initially stipulates the use of 28 GHz for hotspot-urban and 3.5 GHz for urban and rural areas. Through the utilization of these spectrum, KT will be in a position to cover a wide range of use cases such as smart cities, 4K/8K cameras, remote medical services, drones, smart factories and public safety, Lee said. The executive said that the telco will provide 5G services through a service trial in the city of PyeongChang, which will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. KT previously confirmed it has recently started the deployment of its 5G network in major parts of PyeongChang to accelerate its preparations for this initiative. KT signed an agreement with Korea Expressway Corp (KEC) for the deployment of 5G infrastructure on major roads and facilities in PyeongChang. KT previously announced plans to test a 5G network during a five-month period before it launches a trial service in February 2018. … Read more

Qualcomm, Verizon test mmWave 5G

HONG KONG–Verizon, Qualcomm Technologies and Novatel Wireless are working together on 5G New Radio (NR) millimeter wave over-the air field trials based on the as-yet unfinished 5G NR spec, which is set for a mid-2018 release. The companies said they will work together to help move the mobile ecosystem towards faster validation and commercialization of 5G NR millimeter wave technologies at scale, supporting a commercial network deployment before the end of the decade. The companies plan to initially focus on 5G NR operation in 28 GHz and 39 GHz mmWave spectrum bands, showcasing advanced 5G NR technologies to achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates with mobility at significantly lower latencies than today’s networks. These technologies are expected to be critical to meeting the increasing connectivity requirements for emerging consumer mobile and fixed wireless broadband experiences such as streaming high-definition video, immersive virtual/augmented reality and connected cloud computing. The companies plan on delivering a common 5G NR millimeter wave technology platform for mobile and home broadband wireless access, supporting a 5G NR migration path for Verizon’s early 5G fixed wireless access deployments and trials based on Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum specifications. “Verizon’s investment in millimeter wave spectrum has given us the flexibility to pursue a first-of-its-kind fixed wireless broadband customer trial, which has been invaluable in advancing our expertise in the deployment of mmWave technology. With this collaboration, we are taking the next logical step towards extending our leadership position in the advancement of 5G, part of the Verizon intelligent edge network,” said Ed Chan, senior vice president, Verizon Technology strategy & planning. Verizon is in the process of conducting tests of millimeter wave fixed wireless access in 11 U.S. cities. Competitor AT&T is similarly testing consumer and enterprise use cases for 5G fixed wireless access. … Read more

Softbank seeks to get into US tower infrastructure

Japan’s SoftBank, which owns roughly 80% of Sprint, said it is creating a U.S. infrastructure joint venture in partnership with Australia’s Lendlease. Called Lendlease Towers, the company will develop and acquire rooftop and tower assets. The JV’s goal is a $5 billion telecom asset portfolio. Lendlease Towers will start with a $400 million equity investment, with each partner contributing 50%. Over time, SoftBank and Lendlease want to bring in other equity investors. The companies said the initial $400 million has been allocated to fund the acquisition and strategic restructure of approximately 8,000 existing U.S. sites. Sprint is expected to be a tenant on most of the initial 8,000 Lendlease sites. Sprint is the nation’s number four carrier by subscribers, and has spent very conservatively on its tower infrastructure in recent years. However, the company recently announced a new multiple-input multiple-output antenna that will require trips to tower tops and rooftop sites for installation. Lendlease said it wants to work with all the major U.S. carriers. The arrival of a new tower company could be welcome news for the carriers, who have been pressuring the existing tower companies to reduce rents. Shares of Crown Castle, American Tower and SBAC Communications all opened lower this morning following the SoftBank/Lendlease announcement. … Read more

CA governor rejects a small cell bill

Governor Jerry Brown of California waited until the eleventh hour to announce that he would not sign legislation giving his state more authority over how local governments deal with applications for small cells. Brown said he believes local governments need a “more balanced solution” that will allow them to retain more authority over their rights of way. California Senate Bill 649 stated that any small cell deployment proposed in the public right of way should be a permitted use statewide and should be subject only to encroachment or building permits. In addition, the bill would have limited the fees that municipalities could charge service providers for small cell attachments to vertical infrastructure owned or controlled by a city or county. Cities would have been able to charge companies a maximum of $250 a year after recouping the cost of attachment. Wireless service providers and their partners said the bill would create jobs and expedite 5G service for California. 5G networks are widely expected to rely heavily on small cells, because they will use millimeter waves that cannot transmit over long distances, so the cells will need to be closer together. In addition, 5G networks will support bandwidth-hungry applications like streaming video, so networks will need more capacity than traditional towers can provide. Small cells are also expected to play a key role in smart cities, which will require edge nodes for low-latency applications like adaptive traffic signals and autonomous vehicles. Municipal governments are trying to balance the benefits of smart city technologies against citizen concerns about cell site radiation and unsightly equipment. In addition, some cities want to partner with the industry to try to bring connectivity to low-income areas. … Read more

Sprint’s Magic Box is in high demand

This week Sprint won the Mobile Breakthrough Award for the all-wireless Magic Box small cell, developed by vendor Airspan Netowrks. Sprint is using the device to bolster indoor coverage and capacity. In an August earnings call, CEO Marcelo Claure told RCR Wireless News the product was “truly magical,” but demand exceeds supply–a problem that persists. The self-configuring, plug-and-play small cell uses an LTE UE relay, and is being deployed in consumer and enterprise use cases. Sprint says the Magic Box increases download and upload speeds by an average of 200%. Awards Managing Director James Johnson says the Magic Box’s value proposition “is in its simplicity of use.” Sprint COO Günther Ottendorfer adds that Magic Box is a “key part of our densification and optimization toolbox for bringing LTE Plus service to homes and businesses across the country. The feedback has been tremendous, and we’re excited to see Sprint Magic Box making a difference for thousands of our customers.” Back to Claure’s comment in August. At the time, he said, 25% of the requests are “coming from competing carriers [customers]complaining about indoor coverage. ‘Would you guarantee me great indoor coverage?’ Now it’s a matter of basically supplying, and also sending it to customers who have threatened to churn. You send them a Magic Box; they send you a letter about how excited they are. We could not be happier in terms of the performance.” Asked if the supply vs. demand issue is still a factor, Adrienne Norton of Sprint Corporate Communications said via email in late September, “We are continuing to see demand outpace supply for Sprint Magic Box. … Read more

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


Kelly Hill
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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