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5G, APAC, Europe, the Cloud: Telco 2.0 News Review

5G against net neutrality; EU, FCC moves on spectrum; NGMN action; Verizon specs

A team of European operators, plus some vendors and vertical industry players, has submitted a “5G manifesto” to the European Commission. They’re after some money to support large-scale demo projects and standardisation (not that much - a total of €1.5bn), plus they want harmonised spectrum licencing of the 700MHz, 3.4 to 3.8GHz, and 24GHz-plus by 2020. Their timeline expectations are focused on 2020, by which time they want to have at least one EU city covered. In the meantime, they’re promising a wave of trials focused on vertical use cases, on a pan-European basis, that will begin once 3GPP R14 arrives in 2018.

2018, you say?

Of course - 3GPP is expecting to have the New Radio specs frozen by then. Although they’re still planning to keep them for R15, you can see the link, especially as early 5G will keep the LTE control plane, so the New Radio could be deployed very quickly. And here’s Verizon Wireless, with its very own complete 5G radio spec.

Yes, that’s right, they’ve issued a specification for what they call a 5G radio, presumably the technology they want to use in the fixed-wireless product they’re planning. The documents are here, and the partners involved are Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung, aka the chipmaker alliance that’s been pushing for early 5G since the last 3GPP RAN.

Now here’s the bill. They also have a whole list of pretty classic Eurotelco regulatory want-wants. For example, regulation should “prioritise investment in connectivity” over “consumer benefits”, there should generally be less ex-ante regulation, and they want to have 5G “network slicing” carved out from the net neutrality rules. Not surprisingly, Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger is very pleased in his role as the political wing of the E-5, and we can probably presume that his boss, Digital Single Market VP Andrus Ansip, is less so.

Meanwhile, the NGMN has announced three new working groups. One of these covers standard test-cases and methodology, another 5G systems architecture, and a third “vehicle-to-X” in cooperation with the automakers. Here’s a DTAG announcement on some “LTE-V” tests.

On the 14th of July, the FCC will be holding an open meeting on two enormous initiatives - PSTN shutdown, and spectrum allocation for 5G, notably above 24GHz. Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld is holding a telebriefing ahead of the event, tomorrow. A press release on the proposed Further NPRM is here, and this 5G Americas presentation is a useful roundup of worldwide 5G activity.

It seems very likely that the millimeter-wave spectrum will be coming much, much sooner than the 600MHz, and that a lot of it might be unlicensed, going by Lawman Wheeler’s remarks here. That’s another mark in favour of early 5G in the US.

Here’s an interview with Sprint’s new CTO, Günther Ottendorfer, ex-Telekom Austria and Optus. It’s all about their 2.5GHz block apparently.

Early 5G is very likely to kick off in fixed wireless - here’s a product from Wind Hellas, and this story would make more sense if it wasn’t for Angie Comms’ involvement (see this News Review from April 2015).

And Facebook is developing an open-source small cell, which doesn’t look a million miles from OpenBTS at the moment, although they plan to add 3G/4G support before they publish.

S7s sell, Samsung surges; 100k Vives; Foxconn, Line IPOs; Pokemon Go, monster hit; Vodafone India vs Telenor

Samsung is expecting a $7bn profit quarter, its best in two years, as the S7s sell like hot cakes. Revenue is up 3.1%, and operating profit 17%, suggesting that the average selling price has improved and the mix of shipments includes more flagships. That said, they’re also having an unseemly row with Consumer Reports after they tested Samsung’s promise that the S7 Active is waterproof to a depth of 5 feet for 30 minutes, and the phones soaked out.

The Vive VR headset has now sold 100,000 units, well ahead of the Oculus Rift, but Ars Technica notes that manufacturer HTC has very little value-added content in it. Instead, it’s rather like an early iPhone - designed in detail by Valve, running Valve software, assembled under contract by HTC, mostly out of Samsung componentry. Unlike the iPhone, though, the Foxconn-like assembler HTC gets to put their brand on it. Ars argues that Valve, rather like Google with regard to Android, deliberately stepped back from this so as to emphasise the ecosystem and avoid putting off app developers.

Foxconn itself is in the process of floating its connectors unit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and the disclosure shows that revenue growth is stagnating and margins are falling.

Nintendo has had a massive global hit with Pokemon Go, an AR remix of the game that sends you off to search for the little fellas with your phone. Having gone into the US charts at No.1, it was downloaded more often by Android users than Tinder on day one, and the launch in Japan is still to come. This is actually only Nintendo’s second mobile app - the company is usually much more interested in selling hardware - but it’s a reminder to everyone that they know from games development, especially as they’re planning to launch four more apps this year.

One player in the US found a dead body. The shares are up 25%.

Line’s IPO, the first by a Japanese company in the US since 2000, looks like it’s going to be pricey, shooting to raise $1.3bn. This seems a bit surprising, but then there have been very few substantial tech IPOs recently with the exception of Twilio, and perhaps there’s some pent-up demand.

Is Vodafone India going to buy Telenor’s opco in the country? Telenor India has about 5 per cent of the market, but it owns precious 1800MHz, “2G/4G” spectrum over 7 Indian telecoms circles, compared to Vodafone’s 5, Idea’s 10, and Bharti and RJio’s national coverage. The block is valued at $1bn - Vodafone could certainly find the money, but the question is whether to buy it this way or via the spectrum auction coming up in the autumn.

Bharti, meanwhile, has closed its acquisition of 2.3GHz spectrum from Aircel in six out of the eight circles involved. The 20MHz block cost them $520m.

Bharti, Idea, and Chunghwa Telecom were all among the star 4G operators we identified in this report. Chunghwa says it hopes to sign up another 2 million 4G subs this year, to reach 7 million or 40% market share by year-end.

3-Wind is a go…as long as Xavier Niel joins in; O2 shares for customers; London-wide neutral host; Swedish 700MHz

It looks like the EU is now happy with the 3 Italia-Wind deal. The price of getting it away? Inviting Xavier Niel into the Italian market. Iliad gets 2x35MHz of spectrum spread between the 900, 1800, 2100, and 2600MHz bands for some $450m, to be paid over two years from 2017. It also gets several thousand urban macro sites, and either a network-sharing agreement for the rural ones or an additional portfolio of rural assets. Clearly, someone’s been studying up the various network-sharing agreements in France, as they have the same share-in-the-countryside/compete-in-the-city structure. Also, Niel has to sell his (fairly nugatory) stake in TI.

So, 3 gets to merge with Wind, but on condition Niel gets to toss a price bomb into the market. Fastweb, which made its own offer for the assets, is appealing.

With the 3UK-O2 deal off the table, Telefonica is now looking at a straightforward float of O2 UK on the London stock exchange, with the twist that they might offer the shares to their customers first. 3K itself wants OFCOM to set a 30% spectrum cap, which would mean effectively reserving 42% of the spectrum for 3UK. BT would have to hand some back, while Vodafone would be legit, but would have to sit the next auction out.

CityFibre is appealing against OFCOM’s decision to regulate BT’s dark fibre prices. Openreach is going to let duct-and-pole customers do more work themselves - for example, by clearing any blockages they find rather than waiting for an Openreach crew. How nice of them to let their customers maintain the infrastructure!

Interesting project - Luminet and CCS are going to offer neutral hosting for small cells around London, with gigabit wireless backhaul.

BT is giving away six months of football to some new EE signups.

Here’s the Swedish 700MHz auction.

IDC cloud hardware numbers; MS, Oracle data centres; AWS cool with being a utility

IDC reckons cloud providers will spend $23bn on infrastructure this year, up 19%. Meanwhile, private cloud will account for $13.8bn, up 10%, but traditional IT infrastructure spend will be down 4.4%, although it’s still 60% of the total.

Microsoft and Oracle have been spending heavily on data centre space in Northern Virginia lately, a testament to their transition to the cloud. Interestingly, they’re both concentrating on wholesale rather than designing their own.

Data centre investment trusts have done surprisingly well post-Brexit, perhaps because their generally defensive qualities beat the specific risks.

IBM is organising a hackathon for OpenPOWER8 applications.

Amazon Web Services: the cloud is a utility and we like it like that.

Polycom is pulling out of bidding for cloud-UC specialist Mitel after a better offer came along.

Don’t forget: we’re having another leap second.

Huawei/T-Mo patent suit; VZW price rise; DISH CMO; connected car pricing

Well, that’s original - we’ve seen plenty of patent lawsuits between vendors, but we can’t remember many between vendors and carriers. Huawei is suing T-Mobile USA for allegedly violating - more properly, refusing a FRAND offer over - some Huawei patents included in 3GPP standards that seem to cover soft handoff and call continuity during network-to-network handover. Does that refer to their WiFi calling product, then?

Verizon Wireless’ new tariff is out, and they’ve increased the bundles, lowered the per-GB rates, and upped the price points. The now-traditional Twitter beef followed.

DISH has recruited the CMO it was looking for, with one Jay Roth moving from JPMorgan Chase. Apparently this heralds some sort of dramatic move, as he will be:

“an integral part of the team that changes entertainment forever as Dish enters the wireless business and becomes the only provider that can offer wireless voice, video and data”

Really? In any case, the cablecos have agreed, despite all the M&A upheaval, to keep their CableWifi alliance going. It’s now up to 500,000 hotspots. Comcast has added a lot more camera capability to Xfinity Home.

The OnStar connected-car product is coming down in price. The biggest (10GB/mo) data plan, at $40/mo, implies $4/GB pricing, while the 4GB one is right in line with T-Mobile’s $5/GB.

The FCC has put a special frequency coordination group in place for the US political conventions.

A group of mid-sized US telcos are joining AT&T’s lobbying push against the Business Data Services NPRM. Discussion here.

HPE to sell software unit; last keyboard BlackBerry; Theranos lab ban; something up at Tesla

HPE may be about to sell its proprietary software unit, including British unstructured-data star and cause celebre Autonomy. Hardware and services are growing, but software is still shrinking, and you might wonder about the classic licensing model in a world of cloud services and open-source systems. Meanwhile, the other half of HP gets a strong review for the new Spectre laptop (that’s the one you can get gold-plated).

BlackBerry is dropping the Classic at the end of the year, putting an end to the lineage of hard keyboard BlackBerries (note that the Classic was modelled on the genuinely classic 9900 Bold).

Are 2-in-1 PCs with Windows 10 killing the tablet? Here’s a tiny Windows 10 machine optimised as an IoT developer platform. And it looks like Salesforce forced Microsoft to up its bid for LinkedIn.

Theranos has been banned from operating a lab in California. Here’s what it was like to interview Elizabeth Holmes if you were in the company’s bad books.

Almost immediately, one person present told me, Boies and his team threatened legal action against the paper, accusing it of being in possession of “proprietary information” and “trade secrets.” The Theranos legal team then did their best to discredit dozens of independent sources whom Carreyrou had interviewed. The legal team roared, they showed teeth, they tried to intimidate. After a very tense five hours, the person told me that Boies and his platoon exited the newsroom, leaving behind the very serious specter of a lawsuit.

After last week’s disaster, when a self-driving Tesla failed to notice a lorry and accelerated under it, killing the driver, Elon Musk tweeted that the “top secret master plan, part 2” is coming later this week. Maybe not quite the tone? It may be something to do with Musk getting Tesla Motors to buy his SolarCity company off him, which legendary short seller Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates describes thus:

“a shameful example of corporate governance at its worst.”

Chanos, of course, is famous for going short of Enron shares. In case you wanted reassurance that there is no danger of a tech bubble, meanwhile, Amazon is building three huge greenhouse domes so its employees can have meetings in treehouses. Here’s the startup where everyone fasts for 36 hours on Mondays.

Encryption for FB Messenger; Avast buys AVG; Apple most trusted; Blackphone falls apart

Facebook Messenger is getting the same end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp. Meanwhile, it wasn’t a “Facebook glitch” that caused controversial video evidence to disappear - it was the police.

Avast buys fellow anti-virus vendor, AVG, for $1.3bn.

CableLabs reckons they have security in DOCSIS 3.1 sorted, and the big challenge is the home WiFi network.

Apple is by far the most trusted vendor on security, according to a survey of enterprise buyers. Close to 90% thought they were “good”, “very good”, or “excellent”.

smartphone-security-rankings-tech-pro-research-july-1-2016.jpgIt looks like the partnership between Geeksphone and Silent Circle, responsible for the Blackphone privacy-focused device, has fallen apart in acrimonious litigation.

Hidden audio messages in videos, addressed to Siri.

US intelligence agencies want to use wearables to spy on themselves and each other.

Over 100 malicious Tor nodes have been discovered.

Datadog got hacked.

Cryptographer Matthew Garrett buys IoT gadgets on Amazon and reviews them. In detail.

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