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.
We have come a long way in a short time since COVID-19 emerged from Wuhan, China late last year. The virus has stealthily yet rapidly evolved from a provincial epidemic to a pandemic that is suffocating the largest and the smallest of economies around the globe.
The evolution of 5G infrastructure will not be homogenous. Operators will be deploying islands of 5G across a sea of 4G and 3G. They will be faced with the challenges of developing, deploying and managing services across hybrid infrastructures that will be comprised of a fragmented mix of the old and the new. In order to accelerate returns on 5G investments operators will need a common, integrated toolchain that allows service providers to scale operations and services across a mixed portfolio of technologies and operating environments.
For years the Smart Home has promised to enrich the lives of consumers and has inspired waves of manufacturer innovation such as smart speakers, intelligent thermostats and much more. While these innovations have offered incremental improvement in our home lives, the consumer reality has been a deluge of devices and services, greater complexity, and less security. In truth, the Smart Home remains elusive, the problems it intends to solve unclear. Only when manufacturers reach beyond devices and services with purpose-driven “Smart Living” solutions at home will this market cross the chasm to rapid market growth.
With Release 16 of the 3GPP 5G standards slated to be frozen next month and completed in June of 2020, the mobile industry is poised to embrace Standalone (SA) 5G this year. Qualcomm, a leader in 5G technology, introduced yesterday their third-generation modem-RF system, Snapdragon X60 which comes at an opportune time in the evolutionary timeline of 5G standards and marks a thoughtful pivot in Qualcomm's RFFE (Radio Frequency Front End) strategy.
The approval of the $26.5 billion T-Mobile and Sprint merger by a federal court in New York opens the gates for a long awaited deal close. Contested by thirteen US states as a marriage that would water down competition and cause harm to the consumer, the transaction is expect to create a formidable third telecommunications player in the US market. The hopes and fears associated with the combined company will depend on thoughtful integration and realization of compelling synergies that could substantially change the competitive dynamic of the US telecommunications industry.
While the White House has touted a major victory in the trade war with China with the signing of a so-called “Phase One” deal, it was difficult not to notice the very visible absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping himself. Instead, the Trump Administration received a congratulatory letter from President Trump’s Chinese counterpart read by Vice Premier Liu He, a level-three member of the Chinese Politburo.
The global race for 5G is on with operators in advanced markets such as the US, South Korea leading the way with the first deployments of 5G networks in their respective markets. Given all the excitement and hype that has shrouded 5G over the last couple of years, telecom operators around the world are under pressure to jump on the 5G bandwagon as governments push to position their economies for the digital era. Especially for the U.S. and China, 5G has become a strategic economic imperative that both countries believe will determine the economy and doctrine that will lead in our digital future. But what does the 5G race mean for the emerging and developing markets? Do operators in these markets have the opportunity to rethink the network to enable new economic possibilities in the era of 5G?
As the IoT and 5G have evolved the models have moved from a simple Sensor to Gateway, to Cloud, to Edge, to near Edge, to Mobile Edge hype and perhaps one to two more terms that are circulating out there in the hype cycle. The terminology is confusing and typically is market speak or used to hype a specific technology and location between the Cloud and endpoint device that will be used for the majority of the collection, compute, response, and storage of the data.