Telecom Industry News

By: Scott St. John, Pipeline

From FCC rulings to lifting the lid on Victorian-era manhole covers, the last weeks have brought a crop of interesting news stories on network evolution, the road to 5G, and IoT. As is fitting for this time of year, a host of 2018 end-of-year summaries as well as forward-looking 2019 predictions came in, including the ten top consumer trends of the year as reported by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab report, now in its eighth year. Top innovation award winners from Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, the Nokia Open Innovation Challenge, and the Nokia Bell Labs Prize were also announced.

The top stories from the month are summarized below. To view all the news as it breaks, check out Pipeline's News Center or subscribe to receive our news summary each week.

Network Evolution

Tigo and Ericsson announced two new network modernization and upgrade efforts. In Africa, Tigo Senegal has selected Ericsson for its nationwide network modernization project as it looks to accelerate digitalization in the expanding Senegalese market. The terms of the new three-year deal cover over 1000 existing sites, including the latest Ericsson Radio System (ERS) technology to refresh legacy infrastructure, roll out LTE across the country, and modernize and expand Tigo’s mobile backhaul network with Ericsson’s MINI-LINK. In South America, Tigo selected Ericsson to modernize its radio access network (RAN) across Paraguay and Honduras in a multi-year deal involving the rollout of Ericsson Radio System. Under this deal, Ericsson will implement the Ericsson Radio System portfolio into approximately one thousand TIGO sites, with the first phase taking place in Paraguay and Honduras in 2018. 

Elsewhere in Latin America, Gilat announced that Dish Mexico has chosen Gilat’s SkyEdge II-c multi-service platform, operating over Hispasat’s HTS satellite, Amazonas-5, to deliver high-quality broadband services in Mexico. And Telefónica Business Solutions launched a new IP network point of presence (PoP) in Mexico City; the addition brings the total number of International PoP to three—two in Mexico City and one in Monterrey—strengthening and expanding its existing network. And Optiva announced the deployment of a new mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) platform for a Tier 1 LATAM telecom provider.

News on broadband upgrades for rural U.S. residents rolled in over the month. Consolidated Communications announced the completion of more than 500,000 customer broadband upgrades across northern New England in 2018, bringing faster speeds to residential and small business customers in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. In the Southeast, GigSouth and Southern Telecom will partner to increase rural broadband access. GigSouth has entered a leasing agreement with STI for dark fiber that will expand its current network within target rural areas utilizing STI’s metro dark fiber service and backbone fiber network.

Continuing its effort to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission has taken several steps to significantly improve the quality and expand the availability of high-speed Internet service in rural America. These measures include additional funding for the Connect America Fund, the FCC’s program that helps expand broadband deployment and make broadband service more affordable in rural areas, as well as requirements for providers to expand the availability of faster service that will better meet the needs of consumers and businesses.

Mobile and 5G

Mobile and 5G advancements, agreements, and announcements came in from the U.S. and abroad. In a world first and a milestone toward nationwide 5G, T-Mobile, Ericsson, and Intel have completed the first 5G data call and video call on 600 MHz, both on a live commercial network.

Tele2 AB (Tele2) and Telenor have signed a new complementary agreement for the expansion of a joint and nationwide 5G network in Sweden, with implementation to be initiated in the second half of 2019.  Furthermore, Tele2 and Telenor have secured frequencies in the 700MHz spectrum that will strengthen the established 4G network and consolidate the ambition to provide the first customers with 5G access by 2020.

To help improve 4G mobile coverage for customers in busy urban areas, Vodafone is using inventive ways to expand and strengthen its network. It has installed mobile equipment within street furniture such as manhole covers, lamp posts and phone boxes to increase the speed and extend the coverage of mobile signals along busy roads, town squares and in shopping and entertainment areas with minimal disruption and without changing the look of an area. This effort includes keeping the look of Victorian-era manhole covers while also paving the way for the smart cities of the future.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a ruling rejecting requests to make it harder for text messaging providers to protect consumers from spam and scam robotexts.  The Commission’s decision makes clear that wireless providers are authorized to continue their efforts to stop unwanted text messaging through robotext-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features. In other news from the federal agency, the FCC took a significant step toward holding a major 5G spectrum auction in 2019 by adopting new rules that will promote the availability of high-band millimeter wave spectrum for the next generation of wireless connectivity.  The airwaves in the combined Upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands are the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless service in the millimeter wave bands—2,400 megahertz in total—while the 47 GHz band provides an additional 1,000 megahertz of spectrum.  The Fourth Report and Order in the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding is another key step toward ensuring American leadership in 5G. 

ETSI’s millimetre Wave Transmission Industry Specification Group (mWT ISG) released a new Report, ETSI GR mWT 012, which addresses prominent 5G backhaul/X-Haul scenarios in preparation for 5G deployment. 

The 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) and the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) have signed an Memorandum of Agreement agreeing to explore topics of common interest relating to technologies and solutions that will shape the way we live and work. These topics will form part of a Joint Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) that will bring together key European stakeholders to explore the opportunities for new IoT applications built on world-class digital infrastructure.


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