Monday 31 January 2022

Crown Castle bringing more Small Cells to the USA

Crown Castle owns, operates and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 80,000 route miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major U.S. market.

Earlier this month, T-Mobile US, Inc. and Crown Castle announced that the companies have signed a new 12-year agreement to support the continued build-out of T-Mobile's nationwide 5G network with increased access to Crown Castle's towers and small cell locations. The agreement enables the Un-carrier to further expand and deepen the reach of its industry-leading 5G network to serve consumers across the U.S. while also realizing financial synergies following its merger. The agreement also helps Crown Castle generate long-term tower and small cell revenue growth.

An RCR Wireless News article said:

Crown Castle secured commitments for over 50,000 new small cell nodes during the last twelve months, which equates to approximately 70% of the total small cells the booked in its history prior to 2021, the company’s CEO Jay Brown said in a release.

“As a result, we now have approximately 55,000 small cell nodes on-air and more than 60,000 committed or under construction in our backlog. Our customers are already planning for the next phase of the 5G buildout that will require small cells at scale, and this inflection in our small cells business reflects how well-positioned we are to support their wireless network needs for years to come, with our more than 80,000 route miles of fiber concentrated in the top U.S. markets,” the executive said.

“I believe 2022 will be an important transition year for our small cells and fiber business, as we prepare to accelerate our deployment of small cells from approximately 5,000 this year to what we expect will be more than 10,000 per year starting in 2023,” Brown added.

A Light Reading article from last year talked about a new report from Altman Solon. 

Altman Solon said it derived its findings from a database it constructed of small cells across more than 70 US markets. "Leveraging analysis of this database and augmenting with other primary and secondary research and our deep experience and knowledge base in the space for all small cell ecosystem players, Altman Solon has developed preliminary critical insights about the competitive landscape in the US small cell market," the firm boasted.

Among its findings:

  • "Small cell growth has been much slower historically than what industry reports have projected due to the regulatory climate, lack of neutral hosts, and limited backhaul," the firm wrote
  • Roughly 70% of the small cells it identified are located in dense urban and urban areas.
  • Crown Castle operates about 50% of all small cells identified, while mobile network operators like Verizon account for around 35%. Crown Castle operates about 50,000 commercially available small cells today, with another 30,000 on order. ExteNet Systems operates roughly 32,000 small cells across the country, while Mobilitie – recently acquired by Canada's BAI Communications – counts around 10,000 small cells.
  • Altman Solon identified very few neutral host small cells, which are small cells that transmit signals for more than one network operator. Such devices are considered critical to the growth of the industry considering neutral host small cells can generate significant revenues for the companies that operate them.

Here is a short video from Crown Castle explaining their view of small cells

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Friday 21 January 2022

Telefónica Deutschland Activates Germany's First Open RAN Small Cells with Airspan Networks

O2 / Telefónica is a technological pioneer in the use of Open RAN. Since December 2020, it has successfully integrated four base stations in Landsberg am Lech into its mobile network. At present, they are testing the technology, gaining experience and planning further expansion at other locations once all tests have been successfully completed. 

In an announcement this week, it said that it is the first German mobile network operator to have activated the first mini-radio cells with innovative Open RAN technology (ORAN) in Munich. They are intended to provide all O2 Germany customers with even more capacity and higher bandwidths at busy locations in the future. 

While the press release doesn't mention the vendor, Airspan Networks Tweeted that the ORAN Small Cell is supplied by them

Selected extract from the press release as follows:

With the compact, flexibly deployable latest-generation mini mobile cells, the company is able to increase 5G/4G capacities in the O2 network at high-traffic locations in urban areas faster than before. The mini-radio cells, attached to a building facade on Klenzestraße in Munich's Gärtnerplatz district, supplement the 4G/5G mobile network installed on rooftops in the city center, but do not replace it.

Small Cells directly enhance the network experience for local customers. The new technology, which is not much bigger than a shoebox, provides customers in very close proximity with 4G and bandwidths of up to 100 Mbps. In the near future, O2 / Telefónica will also use the small cells for targeted, selective 5G coverage. Here, too, the focus will primarily be on particularly busy locations in German city centers, such as very busy squares, shopping streets or public transport stops.

In addition to a power supply, the small cells required a connection via fiber optics. In Munich, this is provided by the fiber optic infrastructure of Stadtwerke München and the local telecommunications provider M-net.

In the coming weeks, further installations will follow in Munich's city center: First, two 4G radio cells at Gärtnerplatz and later this year, O2 / Telefónica will also install pure 5G Open RAN mini radio cells ("5G Standalone") for the first time in the area of Kaufinger Straße in the Bavarian capital. In the course of these expansions, it is also conceivable to use existing infrastructures of Stadtwerke München - such as bus stops or power distributors.

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Friday 14 January 2022

Building the telco edge with or without hyperscalers!

Ever wondered how are operators building their Telco Edge Networks? Is it different in Asian countries as compared to the rest of the world? Some of these questions have been answered in STL Partners webinar they hosted last year. The narrative says:

2021 is seeing growth in telco edge, with some operators in the region having already launched their edge offerings in 2020. In parallel, hyperscale cloud providers are growing their cloud business in Asia and will build new data centres in the next 1-2 years. ​

For telcos, they need to best determine how to build their edge and to what extent they should work with hyperscalers. ​

This webinar draws on data from over 150 surveyed telecoms operators to answer key questions, such as:​

  • How are operators in Asia building the edge?​
  • How much of their edge infrastructure will be provided by a hyperscaler?​
  • Which use cases should Asia operators focus on?​

The webinar video is embedded below:

The slides and Q&A can be downloaded from the webinar page here.

STL Partners have a huge archive of webinars, do check it out here.

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Friday 7 January 2022

5G for Defence and Autonomous Military Solutions

Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground Systems (iMUGS) consortium is a 13-party collaboration focused on standardising a European-wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. The parties involved in the iMUGS project are Milrem Robotics, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT), Talgen Cybersecurity, Safran Electronics & Defense, NEXTER Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, Bittium, Insta DefSec,, dotOcean, GMV Aerospace and Defence, and Royal Military Academy of Belgium.

Within the iMUGS project, the Latvian MNO LMT is conducting a study on the potential use of 5G in autonomous military solutions. Back in September, the future role of 5G in autonomous military solutions was demonstrated by LMT in collaboration with the iMUGS Consortium. 

A press release said:

The demonstration, during which various scenarios were played out in battlefield-like conditions while showcasing specific use cases, took place today, on September 23rd, at the Ādaži military base in Latvia.

This was the second of a total of six demonstrations with the aim of showcasing the results of the iMUGS (Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) project – one of Europe’s leading defence industry development projects. The demonstration was organised by LMT, one of the members of the iMUGS consortium, with the support of the Latvian National Armed Forces and the project coordinator Milrem Robotics.

During the demonstration, the troops played out close-to-reality military scenarios in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions. Milrem Robotics’ unmanned ground vehicle THeMIS, was used, along with a number of other cutting-edge military technologies, such as:

  • LMT’s battle Information Management System for displaying the data of the payloads and as a command system for scenario execution
  • LMT’s Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (IRS) system for performing aggressive fire detection and source recognition
  • The ISR system ‘Skudra’ for performing the signal intelligence mission
  • A highly protected wheeled vehicle DINGO 2 as a command post from which the mission was led

Alternative communication networks were used by the troop and an unmanned ground vehicle, in scenarios that included switching from a tactical network, provided by Bittium in collaboration with LMT, to 4G and 5G networks.

Some videos shared by LMT are embedded below:

At the 5G Techritory 2021, Armands Meirāns, Innovation Leader for Defence & Public Safety at LMT gave a presentation on 5G for Defense, as showcased by iMUGS Consortium. His talk is embedded below:

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