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19 January 2021

Round-up of highlights from the week’s news

By Wireless Watch Staff

O-RAN gains new open source software release, codenamed Cherry

The O-RAN Software Community – an open source grouping that sits alongside the O-RAN Alliance – has published its ‘Cherry’ software release. Cherry contains new functions aligned with O-RAN specifications including the E2, A1 or O1 interfaces, and new service management & orchestration (SMO) elements.

Chih-Lin I, co-chair of the O-RAN technical steering committee, said: “It not only realizes more 3GPP-defined models, but also brings O-RAN defined interfaces including E2 and A1 closer to commercialization. More ML and AI technologies are implemented in the RIC [RAN Intelligent Controller], RICAPP and NRTRIC [near-real time RIC] projects to push the traffic steering use case forward, which makes it a more intelligent RAN. The newly created SMO project is also worth special mention for the quick momentum that it has gained in contributing to O-RAN automation and management within just three months.”


Nokia technology chosen for US 5G Cybersecurity Project

Nokia has been selected as a technology provider and collaborator by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) for its 5G Cybersecurity Project. Nokia will work with NCCoE and some key vendors yet to be announced, including government agencies, to ensure a secure transition from 4G to 5G networks.

Nokia was selected by NCCoE to help refine a reference design. The 5G Cybersecurity Project will identify a number of 5G use cases and demonstrate how the components of the 5G architecture can provide security capabilities to mitigate identified risks and meet industry sectors’ compliance requirements. This will exploit 3GPP standards to provide enhanced cybersecurity capabilities built into network equipment and end user devices.

Telefónica sells towers business, Telxius, to American Tower

The latest major MNO to sell of its towers is Telefónica, which has signed a deal to sell its Telxius infrastructure arm to American Tower. The deal will involve the transfer of about 30,000 sites in Europe and Latin America to the US towerco, in a $9.4bn transaction. American Towers will then lease the infrastructure back to the Spain-based telecoms group.

This is part of the strategic reorganization on which Telefónica embarked in November, backing out of many Latin American markets (except Brazil) and looking to sell non-core assets in order to reduce debt and support the merger with Virgin Media in the UK and the acquisition of Oi in Brazil.

American Tower has about 180,000 sites worldwide, mainly in the Americas. In Europe, major mobile groups such as Vodafone and Telecom Italia have been selling off their towers, or placing them into arm’s-length entities in preparation for sale or IPO. These actions are designed to unlock value from the infrastructure assets while reducing the cost of running large networks of towers and rooftops, replacing that with predictable lease fees to the towercos.

Verizon CEO highlighted power of virtual events at CES keynote

There was an irony in Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg’s keynote at CES 2021 in drawing attention to the role played by 5G technology in virtual events and exhibitions at a time when these have replaced the real thing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vestberg highlighted the work Verizon has been doing with New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“This new experience brings the museum to you,” he said, “using our technology and the advancement in the latest mobile devices to get you closer to the art you love. In fact, we can bring it into your home using augmented reality.”

He added that without 5G, something like this “is just not possible.”

M1 deploys Nokia 5G Standalone core, for 2021 launch

Singaporean operator M1 is to deploy Nokia’s cloud-native core software for a 5G Standalone network to be launched later in 2021. Nokia’s 5G Standalone core, developed with open source and licensed software components, includes its 5G cloud-native core and its Cloud Packet Core hosted version.

With machine learning and artificial intelligence support, Nokia says its 5G core, deployed with Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP), allows operators to design and automate network slices for enterprise uses cases like unmanned aerial or road vehicles, remote operations, wireless e-health, digital banking and smart manufacturing.

As part of the deal, Nokia said that its professional services teams will also deploy its Network Exposure Function to enable application developers to connect to the 5G core and the Communication and Security Edge Protection Proxy Function, to enhance 5G roaming.

Bosch trumpets ‘AIoT’ at virtual CES 2021 in ‘Las Vegas’

The neologism AIoT, conflated from AI and IoT, has been lobbed about at the virtual CES 2021 that is normally staged in Las Vegas, promoted strongly by Germany’s Bosch. The industrial colossus has been demonstrating embedded AI processing in various IoT products, including fitness trackers, air quality sensors, security cameras, blood monitors, Covid-19 diagnostic devices and moon robots.

Bosch championed 5G as the glue that will bind AIoT and lubricate its parts, having already acquired private 5G licenses ready to roll out across 250 of its factories worldwide.

Private cellular network sales will grow at 43% by 2024, says IDC

According to forecasts from research firm IDC, the market for private 4G and 5G mobile networks will grow from $945m in 2019 to an estimated $5.7bn in 2024, a five-year CAGR of 43.4%.

This includes spending on RAN, core and transport networks, where these are using dedicated (licensed, unlicensed, or shared) spectrum and passive infrastructure; and on private devices embedded with unique SIM identifiers.

“Private LTE infrastructure is already used by select verticals worldwide to solve mission-critical networking challenges. However, the barrier to consumption has remained high, limiting adoption to organizations possessing in-house competency and access to dedicated spectrum,” said senior research analyst Patrick Filkin. “With more spectrum being made available for enterprise uses, coinciding with the arrival of commercial 5G, interest has grown toward using private LTE/5G solutions as a basis for connectivity across a multitude of mission critical, industrial and traditional enterprise organizations.”

Huawei’s hopes of a Swedish U-turn on the 5G ban are dashed

Despite both Huawei and Ericsson lobbying against Sweden’s decision to exclude the Chinese vendor from 5G networks, the country’s Supreme Administrative Court has refused to reverse the policy. The court has ruled that regulator PTS can go ahead with the delayed auction of 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz spectrum this week.

PTS had made it a condition of winning spectrum that operators could not choose Huawei equipment, a ruling that the vendor appealed. Ericsson spoke out against the ban on its arch-rival, presumably because it fears retaliatory action against its own equipment in the far more lucrative Chinese 5G market.