Telco operators have great expectations of 5G and the industry hype mill has set very high bar for the value that 5G technologies and new market possibilities will bring to the communications sector. Is this excitement justified given the rapidly shifting ICT landscape? We are witnessing a dramatic change in the face of competitors and partners as new entrants into the communications service provider (CSP) space change the OTT dynamic and introduce a new breed of UTB (Under the Bottom) threat to traditional telco operators. Who will win 5G gold?
Shortly after Softbank announced that it was looking to spinoff or sell Arm, which they acquired in 2016 for $32 billion, the rumor mill went into full speed. Speculation ran the gamut from Intel to Apple as potential buyers. Who would court Arm? Rumors settled on Nvidia, the GPU company. Would a Nvidia + Arm union make sense? After all, Nvidia has done well and created a disruptive narrative within the semiconductor industry with its GPU-centered plot line which branches off into numerous subplots in telco networking, edge computing and various AI application domains such as autonomous vehicles, intelligent systems and smart manufacturing.
An unexpected but pleasant surprise was announced at Qualcomm's recent earnings call. Huawei had settled its $1.8 billion dispute with Qualcomm regarding the licensing of essential technologies. It represents another important win for Qualcomm in its long and hard fought battle with OEMs including Apple to preserve the integrity and vitality of its technology business. It can be considered a win for innovation. But what does the settlement mean in the grand scheme of things and the rising tensions between the US government and Huawei?
5G is here,.. but what does that mean. Apparently, it means a lot of things due to the myths and the hype that have characterized the next-generation mobile wireless technology and its early rollout by operators beginning in early 2019. Given the deafening media and marketing noise that has drowned out the 5G signal, it is difficult to figure out what is real and what is, quite simply, fake. What are the facts that debunk the myths and hype so that we can get to the value of 5G?
Though delayed a 3-month delay due to the novel coronavirus, Release 16 of the 3GPP 5G specifications are frozen and complete. It has been much touted as the first fully or real 5G release as it introduces functions such as standalone 5G-NR that wean it off of 4G radio and core technologies.
At Apple’s 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Tim Cook delivered the headline that we long anticipated - Macs will transition away from Intel’s x86 processors and adopt Apple’s own proprietary silicon. Why not? After all, Apple has been designing industry-leading processors for its iPhone and Apple Watch which have also powered the iPad, iPod and Apple TV. The writing was on the wall that Apple would bring the Mac into the Apple silicon fold.
Facebook's recent investment and partnership with Jio Platforms was met with a great deal of media and industry excitement. This move was widely touted as a coming of age of Digital India. The largest US tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft are looking to expand their global fortunes in the new digital economic frontier that is India with its 1.32 billion large consumer market. What is really at stake here and what does it mean in the broader context of India's economic digitization?
The US Department of Commerce recently amended its foreign-produced direct product rule (FPDP) and Entity List to include HiSilicon, Huawei’s semiconductor design subsidiary. This action has been widely deemed an escalation of the US government's "war on Huawei. In the broader context of the US sanction on Chinese tech firms, the addendum applies a consistency of "national security and foreign policy purpose” to HiSilicon.
In the last three months, Microsoft has been on a tear building out its portfolio of 5G core and virtualized network service management technologies having acquired Affirmed Networks, and most recently, Metaswitch. The acquisition of these telecom tech companies by the leading enterprise IT technology company and cloud service provider may seem curious at first, but these transactions highlight the acceleration of a transformative trend that we at neXt Curve dubbed Under-the-Bottom (UTB) in our 2019 technology horizon study for Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s communications and media sector regulator.
Necessity is the mother of invention. There has been no moment of need in modern times as urgent as what we face today as humanity grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. In three months, the virus has spread to over 180 countries around the globe, infecting millions, and has arrested the largest and smallest of economies. At the same time, it has created an unprecedented need for connectivity and communications. Now, more than ever, unconventional thinking and leadership as well as innovative applications of technologies such as 5G are dire necessities for addressing the many COVID-19-related challenges that are disrupting millions of lives and jeopardizing trillions in economic value.