The connectivity space in IoT is in an exciting place right now. Many new protocols are being rolled out and sliced off, from Zigbee to CBRS, while some of the oldest and most used technologies of the past are hitting sunset.
In a particularly salient to the moment example, the big three US cellular providers: ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon, plan to close their 3G networks within the next 18 months. T-Mobile will be first out of the gate, reportedly canceling its CDMA 3G network near January 1, 2022, and its UMTS 3G network in April 2022, six months later than initially scheduled. ATT says it will have 3G shut down in February, and Verizon will hold on longest, setting its sights on December for full sunset. The 2G and 4G networks are still going to be around for quite some time.
Regardless of the timeline, these (and many of the other global cellular providers) have credited the rise of 5G and their own 5G connectivity network buildouts for this decision.
The rollout of 5G seems to be inevitable now, and that is likely a good thing, not just for consumers looking to stream all that tasty high-def Vimeo content with no buffering. IoT providers are champing at the bit to provide all the benefits and none of the downsides to every end-user from Retail and Smart Building managers to Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Supply Chain enterprises.
There are plenty of skeptics out there that don’t think we need 5G yet, aren’t sure about the economies and costs involved in the infrastructure builds and bandwidth use, and plain think it’s only valid in minimal cases, if at all.
They’ll come along or be left behind; it seems because the avalanche of global 5G installation and initiatives is only gaining momentum.
Let’s look at some of the most recently announced 5G connectivity expansions and installations, shall we? (Note: this is not an exhaustive list.)
According to recent reporting, Spain is ready to award spectrum in the 26 GHz band, which is the last band for an assignation, and it will be expressly for the provision of 5G. According to a recent announcement from Roberto Sánchez, Spain’s Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Intelligent Infrastructures, it looks like those awards will happen between now and the beginning of 2022.
In July of this year, Telefónica, Vodafone, and Orange gobbled up the 700 MHz from the Spanish government for a total of $1.3 billion. The government also confirmed that each license would have 20 years, rising to a maximum of 40 years.
Telefônica isn’t stopping in Spain, either. Enterprise IoT Insights recently reported that Telefônica’s rollout of 5G in Brazil starts in October, and all the country’s national carriers have been mandated to start 5G work within 12 months. Vivo, the Telefônica Brazil brand, reportedly is investing billions every year in technology and innovation projects to drive 5G and artificial intelligence.
Telstra recently announced that it would widely deploy Ericsson’s cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core across Australia. The goal was to support its ambition to address the increasing digitalization of enterprises, industries, and an emerging B2B2X segment. The company is launching 5G standalone (SA), using a single software platform to manage the EPC and the new 5GC network functions (NFs).
Also, in Australia, Microsoft and Nokia recently signed an agreement with South Australia’s Department for Trade and Investment to explore the combination of 5G connectivity at the edge and satellite connectivity to support digital transformation and IoT solutions. Microsoft’s Azure Space team, South Australian development site Lot Fourteen, the Australian Institute for Machine Learning on space emulation innovation, and Stone & Chalk reportedly have joined forces to support space startup businesses and innovation. Nokia will also expand its existing Adelaide-based 5G field force with a 5G engineering resource to co-develop use cases with the Microsoft Azure Space team and South Australian industry.
According to announcements, the National Policy on 5G networks for Nigeria’s digital economy has been approved by Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council, which will take immediate effect. The Nigerian National Frequency Management Council will soon release spectrum to the Nigerian Communications Commission for Mobile Network Operators, and the rollout is expected to happen immediately. Ahead of the approval, the commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the release of contiguous C-band spectrum for early deployment of 5G networks in Nigeria.
In an interesting case, India is very cautious about 5G deployment nationally. Fierce Wireless recently reported that the Indian government has handed out the 5G spectrum for only six months for interested parties to carry out trials. The plan was to help the country’s telecom providers to prepare their networks for 5G and develop India-specific 5G use cases. According to analysts, these trials are underway already, but the launch of 5G itself is at least a year away, if not more. Indian telecoms Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are testing 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), and Reliance Jio is looking at 5G Standalone (SA). Airtel has trialed 5G in the 1800 Mhz frequency band.
The Indian government has not announced an auction scheduled for the 5G connectivity spectrum yet. Reports indicate that it won’t occur until next year, which means we might not see deployments until late 2022 or even 2023. There is also the wrinkle of 5Gi, a substandard of 5G, having been approved by the Indian Ministry of Communications despite its expected higher cost of deployment and hardware needs. The government requested trials of 5Gi, but no one has announced plans for such a test yet.
Verizon is rolling out millimeter-wave (mmWave) in cities all over the US. According to the carrier, the latest is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Athens, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and Fremont, California, bringing the total to 82 cities (at least in part). The company’s fixed 5G Home service is also expanding, now available in Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, Florida, Freeman, California, and New York’s Niagara Falls. That makes Verizon’s 5G Home service now available in parts of 57 cities.
Dish Network has requested a temporary license from the FCC to use 600 MHz spectrum band licenses owned by another licensee for 5G tests in Las Vegas and Denver. The company said it would test carrier aggregation in places where its licenses would be insufficient. The test will end no later than this year, and the spectrum will only be used for testing and not for commercial purposes.
There is a lot to cover with 5G connectivity growth, so look out for next week, when I’ll be digging into 5G Use Cases, both already in the field and expected soon.