What’s up with… Apple, Verizon, Huawei

  • Apple launches 5G iPhone, but what is it good for?
  • Verizon expands its 5G coverage with DSS to 200 million US citizens
  • Will Huawei offload its Honor smartphone business? 

Apple’s foray into 5G and the associated expansion of Verizon’s next-gen mobile broadband services top this pile of news morsels.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook has unveiled the company's first 5G-enabled smartphones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, which will become available in stores from October 23 and November 13 respectively. You can find out more about the devices in this Apple announcement about the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini and this announcement about the Pro models. The company claims the new iPhones support more 5G bands than any other device, including (in the US) mmWave, which means they can connect to Verizon’s 5G service which can now allegedly offer downlink speeds of up to 4 Gbit/s (see below). Well, that’s great, but…

Faster mobile broadband and swanky, expensive new devices is all very well, but is this really what 5G is all about? At TelecomTV we think this is only the first small step and, in the grand scheme of what 5G means for service providers and their customers, not as critical as the related developments in the service-enabling, distributed telco cloud platform. And we’re not alone in this view. “Operators must invest in edge computing, virtualisation, and more, to deliver the next-generation services made possible with 5G,” notes Daniel Valle, Chief Technologist EMEA, at World Wide Technology, in a pre-packed comment emailed to the media, who also believes a lot of applications haven’t yet been developed to take advantage of 5G capabilities. We may see some short-term disappointment from consumers,” he adds. 

That’s somewhat less enthusiastic than the message delivered by Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, who joined Tim Cook on stage in an empty theatre to share in the excitement of the launch and to announce Verizon’s expanded and improved 5G mmWave-enabled “ultra wideband” mobile broadband connectivity, which is now available in 55 cities as well as multiple venues and airports: In some locations, downstream connections of up to 4 Gbit/s are possible, as the operator has used carrier aggregation to combine eight channels of mmWave spectrum to enable such speeds. In addition, Verizon has deployed Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) capabilities to offer customers a 5G service over its 4G LTE spectrum, enabling the operator to boast that it can now reach more than 200 million US citizens with its 5G service. “5G just got real,” stated Vestberg in this press release, though we’re sure other people have claimed it has been ‘real’ for some time…

A Chinese “influencer/analyst" focusing on technology news tells us that Huawei is primed to announce the upcoming divestiture of its Honor smartphone subsidiary, reports Pingwest (speculation later picked up and presented as ‘exclusive’ by some major news outlets). It seems it plans to offload Honor to a group of independent Chinese shareholders that will make the low-end smartphone line a "standalone entity." The new owners look set to be Digital China (an IT services provider), Gree (a home appliances company), TCL (an electronics company), BYD (automotive) and Lenovo (the multinational tech outfit and, it is claimed, the world's largest vendor of PCs as measured by unit sales). Honor is suffering from US measures that prevent the sale of US components to Huawei and its subsidiaries, and one ploy to avoid such misery might be to sell out to new owners and skirt the American prohibitions. It seems strange then, if the speculation is correct, that the person expected to become the CEO of the divested Honor will be none other than Wan Biao, the Chief Operating Officer of Huawei's Consumer business. Quite how that circle will be squared is not explained. Chances are, though, that the US authorities know exactly who Wan Biao is and what his antecedents were and will be wary (to say the least) of letting US companies do business with a company he is running... 

Technology marketing in sports-mad New Zealand is easy. Identify a sport that commands a high level of interest, pick a big event, plaster your name over it and tie your technology into delivering an event experience: It worked for the Rubgy World Cup, which saw NZ leap into second place in the world in terms of FTTH deployments (rugby match streaming promised). This time the sport is yachting, the event is the America’s Cup, and the technology tie-in is an interactive experience that is supposed to represent the sort of thing you’ll have on tap with 5G. A Nokia 5G network is powering a “5G Race Zone, giving visitors [to Auckland for the race] an immersive multi-sensory experience,” and a taster of what 5G is going to deliver. It worked last time.

The French government is to double the number of tests it is doing on 5G emissions in an attempt to allay the fears of those who believe that 5G networks will have adverse effects on their health, reports Connexion France.

Deutsche Telekom has started marketing a Wi-Fi 6 router for its broadband customers.

In South Africa, Telkom SA has got the hump over rival Vodacom’s partnership with competitive wireless broadband provider Rain, claiming that the “suite of spectrum arrangements between Vodacom and Rain [constitute] a merger that should have been notifiable in terms of the Competition Act.” See this complaint for more details.

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has outlined how its SD-RAN efforts, announced in August, are supporting, and will help to accelerate, Open RAN developments. Find out more in this ONF blog

We live in strange times. The US president, Donald Trump, is the epitome of the freebooting arch-capitalist but yet is agitating for the deployment of what, in essence, would be a federal (i.e. nationwide, nationalised) 5G networkThe idea seems to be that the US Department of Defense (DoD) would give a federal contract to an, as yet, unincorporated and un-named private company that would operate a 5G network as a government proxy. It would lease-out capacity, over spectrum belonging to the DoD, to the operators of cellphone networks and other enterprises and organisations. Behind the scenes some powerful interests support what would normally be complete anathema to them, seeing it as a way to ensure that Chinese telecoms companies are frozen forever out of US networks. Interestingly, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has gone on public record to say that for the US to trail China in 5G technology is a "national emergency" and that one way to leapfrog Huawei would be for the Pentagon itself to build a 5G network that it would share with the private sector. Perhaps Google might even bid to operate the civilian side of the network? After all we are living in strange times and stranger things have happened. If Trump wins next month's Presidential election the notion will stay in play, if he loses, the plan may well live on after he is gone.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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