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17 November 2020

Round-up of highlights from the week’s news

By Wireless Watch Staff

MEO threatens to halt 5G investment in protest at Portuguese auction rules

Altice Portugal, which operates the converged services provider MEO, said it would halt ongoing investment in new projects in response to the regulator’s rules regarding the upcoming spectrum auction. It said Anacom’s decisions for the auction were “disastrous” and spokesperson Joao Zuquete da Silva added: “The regulation of the 5G auction is a fallacy, prepared so that Anacom can comply with a set of statistical indicators, which in no way serve the people, the economy, the country.”

The operator is upset by the regulator’s decision to reserve a chunk of 900 MHz and 1.8 GHz spectrum for new entrants, which would also have nationwide roaming access for 10 years. New entrant bidders will also have “differentiated coverage obligations” (less stringent than those for the three incumbents, Vodafone, NOS and MEO. This risks opening the way for “parasitic investment operators”, piggybacking on several decades of investment by existing MNOs, argued da Silva. The auction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021 and will offer spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands.


Tele2 launches LTE-M network in Sweden

Sweden’s Tele2 has launched an LTE-M network for large scale IoT applications. As one of the two low power WAN technologies under the cellular umbrella, LTE-M is designed for low cost devices requiring low energy connectivity maximizing battery life, while supporting existing IoT use cases previously based on 2G or 3G.

It supports higher bit rates and lower latency than its cellular alternative NM-IoT, which is optimized more for networks of static sensors operating at very low data rates. Initially confined to Tele2’s domestic Swedish network, there are plans to extend the Tele 2 LTE-M service across the Nordics and beyond, with an ongoing roaming rollout focusing more widely on Europe and the US.

Vodafone report touts benefits of 5G and IoT in e-health
Vodafone has reported “overwhelming evidence” that 5G allied to IoT devices can transform provision at the UK’s national healthcare agency, the NHS, after surveying 2000 professionals on their attitudes to the role of digital technology in their fields. The report, Better Health, Connected Health: How 5G and IoT Technology can Transform Health and Social Care, commissioned in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, found that  57% of those surveyed would be comfortable continuing to conduct some of their medical appointments over video after the pandemic is over.

It also found 75% of respondents believed the government should invest in digital technology for the NHS, in order to future-proof the UK health sector. This was almost matched by 71% believing that the 40 new hospitals pledged for completion by the government by 2030 should be equipped with the latest digital technology.

IBM launches hybrid cloud platform aimed at 5G edge

IBM has launched a hybrid cloud architecture aimed at telcos wanting to address enterprise 5G edge computing opportunities. The company has assembled an ecosystem of 35 partners focused on developing enterprise edge applications around 5G with the help of telcos, contributing expertise in cloud computing.

The premise is that the real 5G revenue opportunities lie in offering differentiated services to enterprises, rather than delivering higher performance to consumers. Contributions from operators to IBM’s offering will include locating 5G radios, baseband and core equipment where they can meet enterprise requirements such as factory application calling for sub-5 millisecond latencies.

Sweden postpones 5G auction after Huawei appeal

Sweden’s Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has postponed a 5G spectrum auction scheduled to begin on November 10 after a Stockholm court suspended an earlier ban on Huawei from the country’s 5G networks.

This came a month after regulator PTS had banned both Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTS from future 5G networks there, as a condition of approval for the upcoming spectrum auction. At that stage four mobile operators – Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom – had been approved to participate in the upcoming 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz auctions on that understanding the Chinese vendors would be excluded.

But now PTS has issued a statement saying: “The Administrative Court in Stockholm has decided that the license condition relating to Huawei in the allocation of the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands will not apply for the time being.”

Bharti Airtel hosts O-RAN plugfest in India

Plugfests are starting to gather pace in the open RAN world, in a critical step towards proving the capabilities of multivendor, virtualized networks. The O-RAN Alliance has held its first such event to be located in India, hosted by Bharti Airtel, which along with rival Reliance Jio has made a strong commitment to O-RAN.

Altiostar and NEC, both also suppliers to Rakuten Mobile, were among those taking part and they used the event to demonstrate interoperability and integration of O-RAN Massive-MIMO radio units and virtualized distributed units, the latter running on COTS servers. The project featured a commercial end-to-end fronthaul interface based on O-RAN specifications. The demonstration included of control, user, synchronization and management plane protocols, including 3GPP RCT and performance cases.