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Signals Flash Nov 2017: 5G in Americas | Signals Research Group

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Signals Flash Nov 2017: 5G in Americas | Signals Research Group

  1. 1. www.signalsresearch.com Dispatches from the frontier of wireless research November 20, 2017 5G IN AMERICAS Rambling Thoughts from the Back of the Room
  2. 2. 2  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 Recently, we attended the 5G America’s analyst workshop in Plano, Texas. We offer some rambling thoughts based on attending the event, along with our perspectives on a major news announce- ment that took place since that trip. We’ll be back in a couple weeks with our next in-depth Signals Ahead report – another benchmark study that we are conducting in our backyard. As always, unlike our subscription-based Signals Ahead reports, you may forward this Signals Flash! report to whomever you want. ➤➤ CBRS – Much Ado About Not Very Much. The FCC is heading in the right direction with how it might regulate the spectrum. However, unless you are a WISP or a private entity looking to deploy a localized BWA service, we don’t see too many reasons to get excited. ➤➤ Handicapping the 5G Race. Millimeter wave networks will be geographically challenged, 600 MHz won’t scale or differentiate from LTE, Band 41 may be the most promising, but this isn’t saying much. Can network virtualization make a winner? ➤➤ It makes no Cents! Contrary to widespread belief, 5G won’t be a new revenue opportunity for operators – at least in the near term. The vertical markets need to get on board while URLLC will lag eMBB and prove far more difficult to deploy. ➤➤ It makes no Sense! Broadcom may have its own rationale for wanting to acquire Qualcomm, but the companies are diametrically opposite, or they completely overlap each other. Regulatory hurdles would be impossible to overcome, especially outside of the US.  
  3. 3. 3  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 SRG’S TRAVELS It’s a Small Cell World After All! Part 1: Oh, Oh, Oh, It’s Magic (SINR), You Know Part 2: AT&T’s 5G Evolution: On the Cusp of... Part 1: $1,295; Part 2: $1,250 Included with an annual subscription to Signals Ahead CONTACT INFORMATION To purchase, call +1 (510) 273-2439 or email information@ signalsresearch.com. Subscription information for Signals Ahead, which includes these reports, can be found on the last page of this report. You can also visit our website at www.signalsresearch.com or write us at Signals Research Group 5300 Painter Creek Green Independence, MN 55359 NOW AVAILABLE! SRG’S TRAVELS IT’S A SMALL CELL WORLD AFTER ALL! PART 1: OH, OH, OH, IT’S MAGIC (SINR), YOU KNOW PART 2: AT&T’S 5G EVOLUTION: ON THE CUSP OF...
  4. 4. 4  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Earlier this month we attended the 5G Americas event in Plano, Texas. The invitation-only event brings together analysts and a who’s who of executives, representing device, chipset, subsystem, and infrastructure suppliers, as well as most major US operators. Verizon Wireless and Huawei are the notable exceptions. 5G Americas (formally 4G Americas, formally 3G Americas, and hopefully never to become 6G Americas) “is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecom- munications service providers and manufacturers. The organization’s mission is to advocate for and foster the advancement and full capabilities of LTE wireless technologies and their evolution to 5G, throughout the ecosystem’s networks, services, applications and connected devices in the Americas.” The beauty of the annual event is there is no place to hide and there is nothing else to do, meaning it is possible to gain some great insight into an operator’s mindset and a vendor’s strategic plans. And if you play your cards right, you can sit next to a senior executive from a major US operator during dinner and discuss the psychological nuances of “Spinal Tap.” We’ve collected some of our random thoughts following the 1.5 day event for this Signals Flash report. As alluded to in the subtitle of this issue, we can’t contribute much of the commentary in this report to what we heard during the presentations, roundtables and Q&A sessions. Instead, it stems from snippets of things that we heard which caused our mind to wander, sometimes in a completely different direction. [Not] Making Money on 5G The most over-asked question is “how will you make money on 5G?” For an analyst, figuring out how to make money on a new technology that no one understands or has ever used is easy. For an operator, the question is impossible to answer truthfully without invoking shareholder revolt. Release 15 is all about Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) when it comes to the new 5G air inter- face. Massive machine-type-communications (mMTC) is part of Release 15 and it is part of the 5G standard, but this use case is supported by LTE-based solutions, such as NB-IoT. Ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) is the third major use case, and we’ll return to this use case in a bit, but suffice it to say that Release 15 won’t enable the full capabilities needed for ultra-reliable communications while the low-latency aspect will prove to be logistically daunting to deploy. Release 15 is focused on eMBB because that is what operators wanted/want. The Korean and Japanese operators want something they could show off for their respective major sporting events, and other operators want a means to handle the growth of data traffic, largely driven eMBB will allow operators to continue offering the services and rate plans they offer today, and it may make some of these services better, but it won’t lead to new revenue streams. Unlike our more in-depth Signals Ahead research reports, there are not any restrictions asso- ciated with the redistribution of this document. Recipients of Signals Flash! may share this document both internally within their organization and externally with reckless abandon. In fact, we encourage it! In addition to providing near-real-time commentary and analysis of industry noteworthy events, Signals Flash!provides readers with a summary of past and planned research reports that we offer through our subscription-based Signals Ahead research product. We have also taken the opportunity to promote a couple of our most recent and futuristic reports for readers of this Signals Flash! who don’t subscribe to Signals Ahead.
  5. 5. 5  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 KEEPING UP WITH THE JETSONS A benchmark study of how LTE networks enable the command and control of drones Price: $1,750 Included with an annual subscription to Signals Ahead CONTACT INFORMATION To purchase, call +1 (510) 273-2439 or email information@ signalsresearch.com. Subscription information for Signals Ahead, which includes these reports, can be found on the last page of this report. You can also visit our website at www.signalsresearch.com or write us at Signals Research Group 5300 Painter Creek Green Independence, MN 55359 NOW AVAILABLE! KEEPING UP WITH THE JETSONS A BENCHMARK STUDY OF HOW LTE NETWORKS ENABLE THE COMMAND AND CONTROL OF DRONES
  6. 6. 6  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 in the US by unlimited data plans. As a footnote for the history books, the European operators didn’t think the eMBB use case should be the priority, but they lost their argument back in 2016. Long story short, eMBB will allow operators to continue offering the services and rate plans they offer today, allow more operators to offer “unlimited plans,” and it may make some of these services better (e.g., 4K video streaming versus 1080p video streaming), but it won’t lead to new revenues. There isn’t anything wrong with driving down costs by improving network efficiencies, but eMBB will not result in new revenue streams that drive top-line growth. Since mMTC is based on LTE, even if it is part of the expected 5G submission in 2019, that leaves us with URLLC. Setting aside 3GPP’s decision to limit the functionality required to support ultra- reliable communications in Release 15, there remains the matter of enabling 5G networks to support low latency. Low latency, be it 1 ms or 10 ms, means a fast response time in the air interface and in the core network. The air interface portion is relatively straight forward; in fact, LTE-Advanced will support lower latency (sub 10 ms) in the not-to-distant future. 3GPP should have finished this feature by now, but in the rush to get the NSA architecture option of Release 15 out the door by December, they have delayed work on this feature. The hard part of overall low latency is the core network since low single-digit latency means the application/service needs to be close to the edge of the network. If not, then transport and router delays would mitigate any advantage gained in the air interface. Mobile Edge Computing / Edge Computing was a hot topic a few years ago and it is still a hot topic today. The overall concept is based on a distributed computing platform in which IT hard- ware resides close to the edge of the network – potentially even at the cell site – and that the IT hardware hosts third-party applications or operator-specific services which could benefit from being close to the edge of the network. The trick is no one seems to know for certain what applications and services should be pushed to the edge versus located in a centralized location deep within the operator’s network or within the Internet itself. Operators are continuing to investigate and go through a trial and error process to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. There are also varying views regarding what defines the edge of the network and/or if the definition of the edge of the network changes, based on the application and service. Our point is that these efforts and the underlying business case for MEC is really orthogonal to the whole 5G standardization effort. Just because an operator can do something, doesn’t mean that they should or that they will. And if the business case for MEC exists for an application / service then we don’t think it makes any difference if the network is LTE or 5G. One “nice” feature of 5G is that it will force operators to make major changes to their networks, including at the cell sites. These changes will give them the opportunity to deploy an IT server that one day enables the low latency applications that are possible with 5G or LTE. While the server may be in place, or a spot reserved for it in the future, we don’t think operators will be launching applications and services in a meaningful way at the edge of the network in tandem with the initial 5G network launches. Even if they launch MEC applications and services, this action doesn’t necessarily lead to a tangible reduction in latency that consumers will notice. For example, moving policy control Low latency in the air interface is relatively straight forward. The underlying business case for MEC is really orthogonal to the whole 5G standardization effort.
  7. 7. 7  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 NOW AVAILABLE! 646.2 DEGREES OF TESTING QUANTIFYING THE BENEFITS OF 3-CARRIER CA WITH SUPPORT FOR UP TO 1 GBPS AND THE WORLD’S FIRST 4-CARRIER CA NETWORK 646.2 DEGREES OF TESTING Quantifying the benefits of 3-carrier CA with support for up to 1 gbps and the world’s first 4-carrier CA network Price: $1,295 Included with an annual subscription to Signals Ahead CONTACT INFORMATION To purchase, call +1 (510) 273-2439 or email information@ signalsresearch.com. Subscription information for Signals Ahead, which includes these reports, can be found on the last page of this report. You can also visit our website at www.signalsresearch.com or write us at Signals Research Group 5300 Painter Creek Green Independence, MN 55359
  8. 8. 8  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 to the edge could be beneficial to the operator, but will it really benefit the consumer? Our bet is that for the foreseeable future, MEC / low latency will only have marginal impact on the user experience. In part, this outcome stems from the limited use cases for MEC that operators invoke, combined with use cases for MEC where the resultant low latency isn’t obvious to the consumer (e.g., policy control). CBRS – Much Ado About Not Very Much There has been a lot of excitement as of late about CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spec- trum, which exists from 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz in the United States. The FCC recently issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), which provides some insight into how it might regulate the spectrum in the near future. To summarize, the 150 MHz of spectrum is currently occupied by various incumbents – largely military- and radar-related, but the spectrum is underutilized. In many areas it is never used while in other areas it is used infrequently. The FCC’s NPRM proposes a few major changes to CBRS, which makes it more attractive to mobile operators and other entities looking to use the spectrum in the future. First, licenses could be extended from three years to ten years while also providing greater assurances the licensee will retain the license in year eleven. Second, the geographical boundaries for the licenses could be increased so that a single license covers a larger territory. With the earlier approach, a license could be limited to a “census tract,” which could result in up to 500,000 individual licenses across the country. For a major operator looking to establish a regional or nationwide footprint, it would be a daunting and nearly unmanageable process, not to mention full of uncertainty during the auction phase. Multiple licensed regions would also create major problems at the boundaries of each licensed region since the licensees would need to manage interference with each other. While these issues are being addressed, the FCC can’t solve how to carve up 150 MHz of spectrum between everyone that wants a piece of the pie, while also ensuring that everyone gets a suffi- cient amount of spectrum. The 150 MHz is already carved up into 70 MHz for PAL (Priority Access License) and 80 MHz for GAA (General Authorized Access). The pecking order for the spectrum is incumbents, followed by PAL, and then by GAA. Taking it one step further, in any licensed area, a licensee is limited to no more than 40 MHz of PAL spectrum, and since it is unpaired spectrum the 40 MHz must support downlink and uplink traffic unless an operator uses PAL as a supplemental downlink carrier. 40 MHz sounds like a lot of spectrum, but when it comes to 5G and eMBB, it is only somewhat interesting, in our opinion. Further, if there are multiple bidders going after the PAL licenses then even achieving 40 MHz could be challenging. Things start to get a bit interesting when you bundle in the GAA spectrum. Although the spec- trum is shared, IF an operator can bundle some or all of it with a PAL license then it is theoretically possible to aggregate 120 MHz of unpaired spectrum. This scenario is unlikely, or at least it is unlikely in areas where an operator would want / need 120 MHz radio channels – rural Kansas (maybe), but Manhattan (definitely not). We don’t think major mobile operators will commit to deploying CBRS infrastructure unless they have at least a 20 MHz PAL license. Unfortunately, predicting if GAA spectrum availability for use in the future is nearly impossible since there could be a large number of entities interested in the spectrum. Deployment scenarios involving school campuses, hotel chains, rural WISPs, Google, and corporate campuses make sense for GAA-only deployments. The FCC’s NPRM proposes a few important changes to CBRS, which makes it more attractive to mobile operators and other entities looking to use the spectrum in the future. We don’t think major mobile operators will commit to deploying CBRS infrastructure unless they have at least a 20 MHz PAL license.
  9. 9. VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR… …And then in release 9, 3GPP created eMBSD Price: $1,295 Included with an annual subscription to Signals Ahead CONTACT INFORMATION To purchase, call +1 (510) 273-2439 or email information@ signalsresearch.com. Subscription information for Signals Ahead, which includes these reports, can be found on the last page of this report. You can also visit our website at www.signalsresearch.com or write us at Signals Research Group 5300 Painter Creek Green Independence, MN 55359 VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR… …AND THEN IN RELEASE 9, 3GPP CREATED eMBMS NOW AVAILABLE!
  10. 10. 10  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 The CBRS also has out-of-band emission requirements that could make it impractical to deploy radio channels wider than 40 MHz, if even that wide. The current requirements were intended for channel bandwidths no wider than 20 MHz, but now the FCC is proposing to relax the require- ments to allow wider radio channels. We assume the forthcoming regulations will support 40 MHz channels with sufficient transmit power levels, but that relaxation of the current require- ment may not go far enough to support wider channel bandwidths, such as 40 MHz of PAL + XX MHz of GAA. Using carrier aggregation with the PAL and GAA radio channels located across the 150 MHz might be a suitable workaround for the power restrictions. Finally, there is the matter of device compatibility. The old “chicken and the egg” scenario is once again in play. Handset manufacturers won’t introduce CBRS-compatible smartphones until operators commit to CBRS and deploy infrastructure in a meaningful way. Conversely, mobile operators will need CBRS-compatible handsets to deploy infrastructure in the new band. The device ecosystem will develop but it is likely the initial CBRS deployments will target the more mundane applications, liked fixed wireless access and industrial IoT applications. Longer term, once the US auctions spectrum in the 3.8 GHz to 4.2 GHz (C-Band) range, followed by a lengthy process to relocate the incumbents, the CBRS spectrum becomes more interesting. We believe infrastructure and devices will be able to span the entire range of frequencies – CBRS and C-Band – and the total amount of available spectrum, combined with the global interest in the C-Band for 5G services, will make CBRS more interesting and valuable to operators. Operators will just have to act now, and then wait patiently for everything to fall into place. Handicapping The 5G Race Having traveled the globe to check out LTE network performance, we have a pretty good idea of what is possible with today’s LTE-Advanced networks, as well as the huge gap which exists between the capabilities defined in the LTE specifications and features operators have deployed on a vast scale across their networks. By and large, most operators around the world are playing catch-up when it comes to deploying the LTE-Advanced features which have been standardized and implemented by their vendors. And when they claim their networks support a new feature, the operators don’t disclose the new feature is limited to a small subset of their cell sites. With that view as a backdrop, we find it hard to get too excited about an operator’s 5G plans when we know what they’ve done with earlier technologies. Since this Signals Flash is a bit US-centric – after all, it stems from attending a 5G Americas event – we thought we’d handicap the US operators when it comes to their stated / likely 5G plans. AT&T and Verizon (to a much lesser extent T-Mobile) are focused on millimeter wave for their initial 5G rollouts. The spectrum is very attractive from a bandwidth perspective since a single 400 MHz channel with massive MIMO will easily double or triple an operator’s existing spectrum holdings that it is using today with LTE. The downside is, of course, propagation. Although we think outdoor coverage in dense urban markets will be better than most people expect, the coverage will still be very limited, and it will take a loooong time to upgrade existing small cells, deploy new small cells, and providing suitable backhaul/fronthaul that supports the capabilities of the air interface. If you live and work in Manhattan, then you will probably stumble across 5G millimeter wave coverage during the course of your day – assuming you venture outside. If you live and work in one of the boroughs, then coming across a 5G millimeter wave radio signal is unlikely. The long-term availability of C-Band spectrum will make CBRS spectrum more interesting and valuable to mobile operators. We find it hard to get too excited about an operator’s 5G plans when we know what they’ve done with earlier technologies.
  11. 11. EXPLORE THE WORLD OF 5GWIRELESS January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2Redefining Research J F M A M J J A O N D J F M A M J J A S O NS December 8, 2015  Vol. 11, No. 10 EXPLORING THE WORLD OF WIRELESS GET SMART[ER] UNDERSTANDING THE INS AND OUTS OF THE 5G USE CASES January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 NoJanuary 31, 2012, Vol. 8 NoRedefining Research J F M A M J J A O N D J F M A M JS December 8, 2015  Vol. 11, No EXPLORING THE WORLD OF WIRELE MORE 5G January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2Redefining Research J F M A M J J A O N D J F M A M J J A S O NS September 30, 2015  Vol. 11, No. 8 EXPLORING THE WORLD OF WIRELESS LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD TO 5.5G1 UPDATES ON THE 3GPP 5G STANDARDIZATION EFFORTS 1 Feel free to note the sarcasm New subscribers to SIGNALS AHEAD will receive up to four 5G-related back issues FOR FREE with a paid subscription. ...with more to come! FOLLOW THE 5G STANDARDIZATION EFFORT AS IT HAPPENS January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2December 8, 2015  Vol. 11, No. 10 PREVIEWJanuary 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2January 31, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 2Redefining Research J F M A M J J A O N D J F M A M J J A S O NS December 22, 2015  Vol. 11, No. 11 PREVIEW EXPLORING THE WORLD OF WIRELESS ALL QUIET ON THE 5G FRONT AN UPDATE ON THE 5G STANDARDIZATION EFFORTS AND OTHER 3G-RELATED ACTIVITIES
  12. 12. 12  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 T-Mobile, with its new 600 MHz footprint, has an entirely different problem. Although the operator talks about how the lower spectrum will make it easy to provide wide area coverage with 5G, the limited channel bandwidth will make it difficult to differentiate 5G services from LTE services. Depending on the market, T-Mobile has 20 MHz to 40 MHz of FDD spectrum, which means even in its most spectrum-rich market, the amount of spectrum is just enough to support a 2x20 MHz LTE radio channel. 5G is supposed to increase spectral efficiency versus LTE, thanks to reduced control channel interference, but the advantage will be incremental versus exponential in the 600 MHz band. Further complicating the problem, T-Mobile will be using the spectrum for LTE services before transitioning the network to 5G. The new 5G air interface allows 5G and LTE to share the same spectrum, but the presence of LTE traffic will limit the amount of bandwidth available for 5G services. It is safe to say the performance of the LTE network using 600 MHz spectrum will be much better in the early days of its launch than when 5G technology is introduced – thanks entirely to the limited amount of LTE traffic using the new frequency band in the early days of its availability. Dish also has an extensive 600 MHz footprint, but its footprint is primarily 5 MHz FDD, and a limited amount of 10, 15, and 20 MHz FDD. Dish’s 20 MHz license is in the New York vicinity. As stated publicly, Dish plans to use the new spectrum assets for NB-IoT. It is an interesting strategy that we don’t know much about, but it doesn’t meet the marketing definition of 5G. That leaves us with Sprint and its Band 41 spectrum footprint. The operator has roughly 150 MHz of TDD spectrum in many markets and the spectrum is the best suited to meet the overall objec- tives of 5G. It is “low” enough to provide good coverage and it is “high” enough to support relatively wide channel bandwidths. Further, the spectrum is unpaired, so it is more appropriate for massive-MIMO (LTE or 5G) due to channel reciprocity (e.g., channel conditions in the uplink are very similar to channel conditions in the downlink direction since it is the same frequency band). The problem for Sprint is that the operator is currently using Band 41 for its LTE services. We seriously doubt it is using all 150 MHz in all markets, but we know it is using a lot of its spec- trum in the dense urban markets, or the areas where it will likely deploy 5G services first. Worth emphasizing, there is a Band 41 cell site just down the road from us that would be ideal of a 5G trial service. Now if we could just figure out a way to communicate our request to the operator and the vendor (Samsung) without making it obvious…. With or without 5G, Sprint can get substantially higher capacity from its Band 41 spectrum by using a combination of small cells and massive MIMO – the latter providing the access channel to mobile subscribers as well as providing wireless in-band backhaul to the small cells. Sprint is already heading in this direction with its Magic Box small cell, although massive-MIMO is not part of the equation. One can imagine taking it to the next level with massive-MIMO and a greater concentration of Magic Boxes / small cells bringing the serving cell site closer to the consumer. Although this strategy can greatly improve the user experience, it can’t deliver individual data speeds that are commensurate with 5G. Then again, the true benefit of 5G isn’t delivering Gigabit speeds to a single user but delivering very high bandwidth to lots of users. Separate from the radio access network, the 5G race could be won by the operator doing the most to improve its transport and core networks. With that view in mind, AT&T definitely talks leadership in this important area and if the operator’s claims are true, then a substantial portion of its network functions will be virtualized by the end of the year. Unfortunately, this claim isn’t something that we can easily test so we’ll have to take the claim at face value.
  13. 13. 13  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 Broadcom and Qualcomm – Talk about a Marriage from “H E Double Toothpick” While headed to the DFW airport, we first heard about Broadcom’s intent to acquire Qualcomm. We wanted to blame it on the MSM (Mainstream Media) and Fake News, but when websites on the left and right started running the rumor, we knew it had to be true. Just recently, Qualcomm’s board announced a unanimous decision to reject the offer, citing regulatory uncertainty and that the deal undervalued Qualcomm. We think a better rationale is regulatory certainty since there is no way government regulators will allow the deal to go through unless the new entity sold off some of its business units. Then again, Broadcom’s decision to move its headquarters back to the US just prior to announcing its intent to acquire Qualcomm, along with its decision to host its annual Christmas Holiday party in the Washington, D.C. building that formally housed the Old Post Office might help grease the skids and help get the deal approved. Who are we kidding, it all but guarantees it. On a more serious note, getting US approval isn’t the long pole in the tent, instead the EU and China would be the major stumbling blocks. There isn’t a lot of love now from the EU and China regulators, so combining Qualcomm with Broadcom would only make matters worse. To varying degrees, Broadcom and Qualcomm are major suppliers of wireless IC chipsets that provide Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth functionality. We don’t track market share, so it isn’t clear if the merger creates a monopoly in this market, but it doesn’t have to create a monopoly. It just needs to take one step forward in that direction to create a viable argument that a monopoly exists for the EU and China to oppose it. Just ask Microsoft, Google and others. It would serve no purpose for Broadcom to sell Qualcomm’s WLAN business since Qualcomm has gone to great lengths to integrate WLAN technologies with its cellular solutions. Conversely, Broadcom’s WLAN technologies provide a nice alternative to a Qualcomm-based product for those companies that don’t want to use Qualcomm’s WLAN solution or who don’t use its cellular solutions. Outside of WLAN, there isn’t much product overlap, but there are also not any synergies. Broadcom (Avago) buying Qualcomm’s cellular business to complement its RF filter business is akin to Goodyear Tire buying General Motors so that it can sell more tires to a captive customer. In other semiconductor markets, the two companies don’t overlap in any meaningful way, so one could argue the deal is good for Broadcom since the deal expands its footprint and revenue opportunity. Having a strong wireline and wireless semiconductor footprint is beneficial for a company that does it organically, but when it tries to bite off more than it can chew in a market, like cellular, it will be problematic. In other words, Intel and Samsung can have success with wire- line and wireless because they’ve been doing it for years and they understand success in wireless requires different commitments than success in wireline. Herein lies the other big issue, even if regulatory approval can be won or bought. Qualcomm is a bit unique for a public company. While it has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, it also isn’t afraid to try a moon shot occasionally (i.e., one or twice a quarter). Think a somewhat subdued Elon Musk and you will get the picture. Broadcom is a more traditional company. The company, like Qualcomm is innovative, but Broadcom’s innovation ties to its product portfolio and not to the standards where its products are used. Getting US approval isn’t the long pole in the tent, instead the EU and China would be the major stumbling blocks. Broadcom buying Qualcomm’s cellular business to complement its RF filter business is akin to Goodyear Tire buying General Motors so that it can sell more tires.
  14. 14. 14  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 Say what you will about Qualcomm’s licensing business, but it wouldn’t be the company it is today without its R&D team, which is not only driving product innovation but also playing a major role in standardization leadership. The two activities are closely intertwined, and we assume a primary reason why Qualcomm never split its chipset and licensing business units. If the merger happens, the moment Broadcom management scales back R&D or disapproves the next moon shot, the brain trust will exit the buildings on Morehouse Drive for greener pastures just down the road where Samsung, Intel and MediaTek have set up shop. Broadcom also isn’t going to solve Qualcomm’s legal woes, or if it solves them then it does so by throwing the baby out and bottling the bathwater, in which case it throws away all the inherent value of the company that it just acquired. To us, it makes more sense for Apple to buy Qualcomm, based on the principle of “if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.” Important caveat – we wrote “more sense” and not “makes sense,” just like it makes more sense for a Finn to leave the creature comforts of a hot sauna and jump into a lake when it is 0 degrees outside versus -10 degrees outside.1 Apple would get its own multi-mode chipset and it would get valuable patents, which would help with cross-licensing, as well as elimi- nate the royalty fees it is now indirectly paying to Qualcomm and directly paying to others. And with $250 billion of cash in the bank, Apple could make an all-cash deal, and still have enough left over for an extravagant Christmas Holiday party at the Old Post Office building in DC. 1 According to a recent DNA test, we are 2% Finnish, so we are entitled to make this statement.
  15. 15. 15  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: SIGNALS AHEAD BACK ISSUES ➤ “It’s a Small Cell World after all! – AT&T’s 5G Evolution: On the Cusp of …” In this Signals Ahead report we provide results from our independent and in-depth analysis of LTE small cells, specifically LTE-FDD small cells that have been deployed as part of AT&T’s 5G Evolution in Indianapolis, Indiana. We also include an overall assessment of the macro network performance. Highlights of the Report include the following: Our Thanks. This study could not have been done without the support of Accuver Americas, who provided us with its XCAL-Solo drive test tool and XCAP post-processing software. Our Approach. We tested AT&T’s “”5G Evolution”” in down- town Indianapolis - once in May (before small cells) and again in September (after small cells). We used geo binning of the data, filtered the results by EARFCN, separated the results between macro and small cell PCIs, and used RB normaliza- tion to provide the most meaningful analysis of the data. The Small Cell Results. We identified material/substantial benefits in downlink and uplink performance, including all of the underlying performance metrics that influence user data speeds. We quantify these results and provide the relative impact on user data rates and spectral efficiency. We also analyzed the impact of interference. The Macro Network Results. We’ve tested all the network features, going back to 1H/2015, but for completeness we include them in this study. ➤ 9/25/17 “RAN #77 5G Standardization Update: Come for the Beer, Stay for the Plenary” We recently attended the RAN #77 Plenary, held in Sapporo, Japan. In addition to following the events proceedings we took the time to do some VoLTE testing, given that two US operators have announced VoLTE roaming agreements with two operators in Japan. Highlights of the Report include the following: Fun(?) with VoLTE. AT&T has announced a VoLTE roaming agreement with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI has announced a similar agreeement with Verizon Wireless. Armed with test equipment from Spirent Communications and Accuver Americas, not to mention 5 Galaxy S8 smartphones, plus a couple of test phones back in the US, we put these agree- ments to the test. Needless to say, some things worked, some things didn't work, and some things worked in unex- pected ways... Continued Rush to Standardization. Come heck or high water, 3GPP intends to complete the NSA option of Release 15 by December. This decision means further delays to critical study items, which will likely impact Release 16 functionality. Further, some nice-to-have functionality for Release 15 is deprioritized for the time being, although it could still be completed by June 2018. We discuss the deprioritized func- tionality, which will definitely impact the December Release and discuss other critical 3GPP decisions which impact 5G and LTE standardization activities. ➤ 8/12/17 “SRG Travels: It’s a Small Cell World After All” In this report we provide results from our inde- pendent and in-depth analysis of LTE small cells, specifically mini-macro cell sites and the Sprint Magic Box,”” which is essentially a repeater-like solution that leverages a B41 radio channel for the backhaul and a separate B41 radio channel for the access network. Highlights of the Report include the following: Our Thanks. This study could not have been done without the support of Accuver Americas, who provided us with its XCAL-Solo drive test tool and XCAP post-processing software. Our Approach. We tested the Sprint LTE-TDD network in New York City and at the SRG Global Headquarters in Minnesota. We used two Galaxy S7 smartphones with one smartphone locked to a macro EARFCN (radio channel) and the other smartphone locked to the mini-macro / Magic Box EARFCN. The Results. Although much is made about the use of small cells to improve coverage - especially the Sprint Magic Box - we determined that the biggest benefit associated with both small cell configurations was their impact on overall network efficiency due to the much higher SINR these solu- tions delivered. We quantify the benefits, both for network efficiency as well as the benefit to consumers. ➤ 6/26/17 “RAN #76 5G Standardization Update - The Calm Before The Storm” We recently attended the RAN #76 Plenary, held in West Palm Beach, Florida. Following on the heels of RAN #75, where 5G moved from a study item to a work item, things were far more subdued at this plenary. However, we also believe it represented the calm before the storm. Highlights of the Report include the following: NSA Spillover. Although things seem to be reasonably on track to complete the NSA option in December and the full Release 15 specification in June 2018, there are other implica- tions that need to be considered. We discuss how prioriti- zation can have consequences that, if nothing else, impact future releases (i.e., Release 16 functionality). Rush to Standardization. Too many cooks in the kitchen and a short order cook mentality can create havoc and/ or result in the customer not receiving the meal he or she ordered. We cite a few examples where this is already occur- ring and where it could occur in the future.
  16. 16. 16  |   Signals Flash  November 20, 2017 ON THE HORIZON: POTENTIAL SIGNALS AHEAD/SIGNALS FLASH! TOPICS We have identified a list of pending research topics that we are currently considering or presently working on completing. The topics at the top of the list are definitive with many of them already in the works. The topics toward the bottom of the page are a bit more speculative. Obviously, this list is subject to change based on various factors and market trends. As always, we welcome suggestions from our readers. 5G Standardization ➤➤ 5G from a 3GPP Perspective (ongoing series of reports – published quarterly or as warranted) Thematic Reports ➤➤ Mobile Edge Computing and the impact of data caching at the cell edge ➤➤ LTE and the Connected Car ➤➤ Cloud RAN ➤➤ LTE-Advanced Pro features, opportunities and challenges Benchmark Studies ➤➤ OTA Benchmark Study of smartphones, part II (TM2, etc.) ➤➤ VoLTE Part Seven – Impact of QCI=2 with video telephony and its impact on the user experience ➤➤ Carrier Aggregation with LAA/LTE-U/LWA ➤➤ Network impacts (to include signaling) of using various smartphone OS platforms and/or applications (video, VoLTE, social networking, etc.) ➤➤ Uplink CoMP network benchmark study ➤➤ Chips and Salsa – LTE TDD chipset benchmark study ➤➤ MU-MIMO
  17. 17. please note disclaimer: The views expressed in this newsletter reflect those of Signals Research Group and are based on our understanding of past and current events shaping the wireless industry. This report is provided for informational purposes only and on the condition that it will not form a basis for any investment decision. The information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but Signals Research Group makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of such information. Opinions, estimates, projections or forecasts in this report constitute the current judgment of the author(s) as of the date of this report. Signals Research Group has no obligation to update, modify or amend this report or to otherwise notify a reader thereof in the event that any matter stated herein, or any opinion, projection, forecast or estimate set forth herein, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate. If you feel our opinions, analysis or interpretations of events are inaccurate, please fell free to contact Signals Research Group. We are always seeking a more accurate understanding of the topics that influence the wireless industry. Reference in the newsletter to a company that is publicly traded is not a recommendation to buy or sell the shares of such company. Signals Research Group and/or its affiliates/investors may hold securities positions in the companies discussed in this report and may frequently trade in such positions. Such investment activity may be inconsistent with the analysis provided in this report. Signals Research Group seeks to do business and may currently be doing business with companies discussed in this report. Readers should be aware that Signals Research Group might have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Additional information and disclosures can be found at our website at www.signalsresearch.com. This report may not be reproduced, copied, distributed or published without the prior written authorization of Signals Research Group (copyright ©2017, all rights reserved by Signals Research Group). Signals Ahead Subscription The Signals Ahead newsletter is available on a subscription basis. We offer three distinct packages that have been tailored to address the needs of our corporate users. The Group License includes up to five users from the same company. The Global License is the most attractive package for companies that have several readers since it is offered to an unlimited number of employees from the same organization. Finally, the Platinum package includes the Global License, plus up to five hours of analyst time. Other packages are available. Corporate Rates (12 issues) ❒ Group License ($3,995) ❒ Global License (Price Available upon Request) ❒ Platinum (Price Available upon Request) ❒ Gold Pass (Price Available upon Request) Payment Terms ❒ American Express ❒ Visa ❒ MasterCard Credit Card # Exp Date / / ❒ Check Check Number ❒ Purchase Order PO Number Name: Title: Affiliation: Phone: ( ) Mailing Address: Mailing Address Signals Research Group – ATTN: Sales 5300 Painter Creek Green Independence, MN 55359 Alternatively, you may contact us at (510) 273-2439 or at information@signalsresearch.com and we will contact you for your billing information. We will not process your payment until after the trial subscription period is completed. Terms and Conditions: Any copying, redistributing, or republishing of this material, including unauthorized sharing of user accounts, is strictly prohibited without the written consent of SRG.

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