First up, U.S. mobile operator AT&T. The carrier:
- committed $200 million to a venture capital fund backing tech startups, with the expectation that whatever solutions are developed will run on top of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) it helped launch earlier this year.
- announced plans to start testing a new cloud-based platform for its consumer video services (starting with DirecTV Now), and expects to launch it commercially by year’s end.
- is leveraging its extensive central office and cell tower assets to follow the edge computing trend, part of a larger plan to virtualize its network to meet expected bandwidth demands from 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual reality.
- added 2.8 million subscribers during second quarter 2017 (in the U.S. and Mexico).
- is re-skilling its workforce to prepare for a software-defined network (SDN) future.
- asked the FCC for permission to keep testing 5G equipment using the 28 GHz band, hoping to gain a better understanding of RF transmission in high-band frequencies.
- is working to expand the reach of its fiber network, both inside and outside its footprint. That includes rolling out an all-fiber network to two metro areas in the southeast, and expanding its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) coverage in 20 existing fiber markets.
- continues to test a variety of technologies (LAA, LTE-A Pro, fixed wireless access, etc.) that might support its move toward gigabit LTE and 5G.
On a somewhat related note, CenturyLink is incorporating big data into its network functions virtualization (NFV) efforts, noted Light Reading Editor-in-Chief Craig Matsumoto. That’s not too surprising, given that next-generation networking projects bring the hope of using analytics to drive an automated feedback loop that optimizes performance and the user experience.
Meanwhile, in Asia, China is determined to lead the global deployment of next-gen mobile, said Light Reading news editor Iain Morris. China Telecom has plans to conduct commercial 5G “network field trials” in six Chinese cities during 2019.
In Europe, Deutsche Telekom (DT) is lab testing the latest evolution of Adtran’s G.fast standard, specifically evaluating “the use of 212MHz transmission and coordinated dynamic time allocation (cDTA) using Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) deployment models that permit the use of existing cable infrastructure within the home,” reported Telecom TV editorial director Guy Daniels. End goal: rapidly deploy ultra-fast and gigabit broadband services.
During a Telecom TV interview, Eric Bebeau, Head of NFV Solutions at Orange, said that the real driver for telco adoption of NFV is not technical, but rather about human collaboration between service providers, vendors, and teams. For Orange, automation is high on its agenda, Bebeau said, and it’s now possible to deploy NFV infrastructure in an automatic way.
Not resting on its laurels, Reliance Jio in India recently launched its 4G JioPhone, a handset consumers can get for a deposit of only 1,500 rupees ($23.30), refundable three years later when the device is returned, reported Light Reading contributing editor Gagandeep Kaur. That makes the device potentially transformative for about 500 million feature phone users in India.
In South Korea, SK Telecom has been busy on a number of fronts. For example, the operator recently:
- announced its own NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) platform, T-MANO, developed in-house to get around the problem of integrating different vendor solutions.
- developed a 5G repeater and applied it to its 5G trial network in Seoul. The repeater amplifies radio signal to improve 5G signal in shadow areas, using the operator’s pre-standard 5G relay technology.
In the U.S., T-Mobile also has a lot of (inter-related) irons in the fire. For example, the operator:
- unveiled a narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) field trial in Las Vegas, conducted over a live commercial network using Qualcomm and Ericsson equipment.
- stressed its plans to rapidly deploy a nationwide 5G network using its newly acquired 600 MHz spectrum, saying it plans to start the build-out essentially immediately with the goal of getting it up and running by 2020.
- noted that its millimeter wave 5G tests are now underway, part of the carrier’s wireless network densification efforts.
- emphasized the importance of low latency and network slicing to its 5G evolution strategy. That strategy depends on being able to segment the network to re-dimension capacity, with automation creating ‘data pipes’ tailored for specific services.
- highlighted how it is tightening security for its Virtual Network Services platform for enterprises, by adding capabilities from Check Point.
Finally, on a regional U.S. note, WideOpenWest (WOW) is aggressively pursuing growth by pushing its HFC network deeper into existing networks, noted Light Reading’s Cable/Video Practice Leader, Alan Breznick. The operator is using nearly $600 million in cash proceeds from its recent IPO and sale of a Chicago fiber network (to Verizon) to accelerate its “Edge-Out” strategy.