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12 January 2021

Round-up of highlights from the week’s news

By Wireless Watch Staff

CES 2021 virtual, 5G still dominates

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2020 was one of the last major events to be staged before the Covid-19 pandemic kicked in, but going virtual this year does not seem to have changed the priorities.

5G is set to dominate just as it did in 2020, with Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg kicking the show off with the first keynote on next generation cellular technology. There is an element of oxymoron though, about a virtual CES, given that the show in the past has been all about getting hands on new consumer gadgets.

London Stadium turns on 5G network

London Stadium has turned on a 5G network ready for when fans return to the venue that hosted the 2012 Olympic games and is now home to West Ham United football club, while staging occasional athletics events.

BT’s mobile arm EE recently completed installation of a WiFi network. The addition of 5G capability will offer higher speeds and support the stadium’s recent move to cashless transactions, allowing for quicker and hygienic payments at point of sale, according to EE. The improved connectivity will also enable more accurate access to location services and give opportunity to introduce new applications accessible both within and beyond the stadium, in the environs of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Nokia secures 5G deals in Saudi Arabia

Nokia is expanding a strategic 5G partnership with Zain KSA for deployment of 60,000 5G Gateway 3.1s incorporating eSIM across Saudi Arabia during the rest of 2021. The gateways will deliver better connectivity and ultra-high data speeds to homes and offices across the country, according to the vendor, for smart devices over both 5G and WiFi 6.

Nokia FastMile 5G gateways exploit its self-optimizing mesh WiFi 6 technology for real time WiFi performance optimization. Nokia also claimed this is the first deployment of eSIM in a 5G fixed wireless access network.


US C-band auction raises double the expected money

The eagerly anticipated US auction of C-band spectrum had raised at least  twice the sum expected in average analyst expectations, even while it was still ongoing. At the time of writing, $78.5bn had been raised in bids after 55 rounds of bidding for the 3.7 GHz band, comprising a total 280 MHz of spectrum.

The highest estimate we had seen before the holiday was $51bn from financial analysts at New Street Research, while Raymond James estimated about $30bn and Morgan Stanley Research $26bn. The previous highest sum raised at a US spectrum auction was $45bn for AWS-3, in bands between 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz in 2014-2015. The amount raised has been so spectacular largely because it was the USA’s first major auction of the highly prized and unencumbered midband spectrum, which offers an optimum balance between geographic reach and capacity or high performance.

Three operators support edge roaming and federation

Three operators – Telefónica, KT and China Unicom – have enabled their customers to access multi-access edge computing (MEC) services locally when roaming onto one another’s networks.

This is achieved using a platform developed by Altran, on its Esconce system, and Unicom’s inhouse R&D team. When the three MNOs first announced their cooperation, Telstra was also involved, but was not mentioned in this announcement.

“We are proud to be part of the team that has achieved the first edge roaming and federation experience that opens many options when it comes to commercializing future edge computing services. It is undoubtedly a game-changing step that allows operators to show the value and exploits the full potential of telco-based edge infrastructures,” said Telefónica’s SVP of technology and ecosystems, Juan Carlos García.