The Week in Review
3GPP finalizes V2X spec as Here launches Open Location Platform
The GSMA’s standards group, the 3GPP, has completed its V2X spec for the next version of the LTE standard – Release 14. The spec aims to define how LTE will be used to connect vehicles to things, in an increasingly connected world. The news comes as Here has launched its Open Location Platform – a system to crowdsource data from vehicles about road conditions and share the wealth among participants.
Intel, Samsung, Avago looking to beat Qualcomm in race to NXP
Qualcomm’s rumored purchase of Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors for $30 billion would push it into third place in the global semiconductor market, leapfrogging SK Hynix, but market leaders Intel and Samsung are reported to be eyeing up counter bids, along with Broadcom’s parent company Avago Technologies.
The allure of NXP lies in how it would provide differentiation from the core mobile SoCs, GPUs, and radio businesses of the chip giants into industries such as the IoT and automotive sectors, thanks to NXP’s $12 billion purchase of dominant automotive player Freescale last year – which had a 14% share of the automotive semiconductor market last year.
Nokia jazzes up small cell units with drone delivery, braves bird menace
Nokia says it has developed a solution to the operator-pursued dream of solving the challenges of small cell backhaul, by placing solar-powered units on rooftops using drones, following a successful demo in California this week. However, aside from adding a touch of drama to the performance, it has not been made abundantly clear why drones are even required in this venture.
Security initiatives proliferate, amid daunting IoT and density challenges
The security challenges of the future wireless network are daunting. More and more cells, in dense networks; more and more gateways and devices, in the Internet of Things; more data and intelligence distributed to the edge of the network with Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) architectures. These developments clearly lead to a world where the possible entry points for hackers are multiplied colossally.
No surprise, then, that security is at the heart of the program for many industry bodies which are trying to establish common ground and best practice for the new networks. OneM2M, the SIMAlliance and the Small Cell Forum are all deeply concerned with networks in which huge numbers of elements may be connected, and will have to be secured.
Will 5G be Samsung’s turn for RAN glory?
Samsung was part of a group of network equipment vendors – also including NEC and Motorola – which missed out on the W-CDMA 3G market, except in a few niches. All these companies had plans to seize share back from the 3G giants when 4G came along. Motorola and Samsung built on their strong CDMA bases and focused heavily on WiMAX, in the hope that – as in the 3G world – there would be a powerful alternative to the main 3GPP platform, which they could control.
Nokia supports private networks with its Cloud Packet Core
Just a few weeks after Nokia joined the Mission Critical Communications Alliance, it has expanded its LTE portfolio with a special solution, based on its Cloud Packet Core, for private critical 4G networks. This nods to a trend, in some countries, such as the US, for operators to host private networks on their infrastructure – addressing some of the worries about running critical or even enterprise services on the same links as consumer broadband.
LTE-V finalized – Vodafone trials as vendors form 5G auto alliance
As in public safety, the LTE ecosystem is working hard to adapt its technology for specialized needs for which it was never conceived. LTE-V is the strand of the standard targeted at V2X, and Vodafone Group – an enthusiastic triallist of specialized LTE strands, as its NB-IoT progress shows – said this week that it has already completed initial validation of LTE-V on a private test track in the UK, and is now working towards trials in Germany.
BlackBerry finally admits defeat in handsets, adopts licensing model
Ever since John Chen took over as CEO in 2012, it has seemed probable that he would finally kill off the device business, which in recent times has even lost most of its enterprise faithful. The failure to adjust to the rise of iPhone-like handsets, and the adoption of BYOD (bring your own device) policies in many companies, helped topple the BlackBerry from its perch and it now has less than 2% market share.
Foxconn may get Apple reward for its investment in Sharp OLED
Sharp announced plans to invest Yen57.4bn ($566m) in the development of OLED production facilities, with the goal of starting output by June 2018. That would be too late for first releases of the next iPhone, (which is reportedly going to skip the ‘s’ generation and go straight to the iPhone 8 name). Sharp said it would invest the funds in equipment in its factories in Mie and Osaka, and to deliver sample products to customers.
Sonus buys Taqua to address the VoLTE and VoWiFi boom
Sonus purchased Taqua, adding to its wireline and wireless IP platform at a time of multi-network convergence and of increasing deployments of VoLTE and VoWiFi. Sonus will pay at least $20m in cash for Taqua, gaining additional switching and mobile network capabilities. There is potential for additional cash payments if certain revenue thresholds are exceeded.
Qualcomm and SKT claim ‘enhanced’ LTE-LAA
Qualcomm and SK Telecom are never shy of pushing a technology to its limits, and claiming ‘world firsts’ in the process. The two companies are trialling ‘Enhanced LAA’ (eLAA), even before there are any commercial implementations of the LTE-LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) technology, which supports 4G supplemental downlink in unlicensed spectrum.
Amazon makes up for smartphone failure in the smart home
After the debacle that was the Fire Phone, Amazon was essentially left with an AI-powered digital assistant called Alexa that it had developed to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Somewhere inside Amazon’s Lab126 skunkworks, an engineer decided to chuck Alexa inside a device shaped like a Pringle’s can, and the rest is history. Amazon had almost accidentally tapped into a market that hadn’t been addressed yet, and thanks to its hefty Prime membership discounts, the Echo has been selling like hotcakes.
Tiscali becomes an early mover in Europe’s 3.5 GHz LTE push
Tiscali says it plans to launch fixed wireless services based on TD-LTE in the fourth quarter, with speeds of up to 100Mbps, rising to 1Gbps over time. It aims to deploy the network throughout Italy with a target of serving 13m households and businesses, particularly in areas where broadband coverage is poor. The agreement with Huawei covers the supply both of core and radio equipment and CPE.