Telecom Update: Verizon's Straight Path, Sprint's 5G, China Mobile's Next-Gen Investments

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Sunday, May 14, 2017 with No comments

U.S. mobile operator Verizon dominated much of the telecom news this week, with its acquisition of spectrum holder Straight Path, a move widely seen as part of the carrier's fixed 5G service ambitions. Sprint and China Mobile also garnered some attention with 5G and next-gen network investment news of their own.
"Beating out AT&T in a bidding war for spectrum that could be used to deploy future fixed 5G services in the US," Verizon reached a deal with Straight Path Communications to acquire that bandwidth and intellectual property company for $3.1 billion, Light Reading reported. Boards of director for both companies have approved the merger, and it now enters a nine-month review by the Federal Communications Commission.

Buying more spectrum is "a no-brainer in the telecoms industry, with telcos’ insatiable appetite for spectrum showing no signs of abating," commented Telecom TV. And the spectrum holdings of Straight Path are especially enticing: it owns a portfolio "of 39GHz and 28GHz wireless spectrum licenses – so-called millimetre wave (mmW) spectrum, that will really come into play in the mid-2020s when 5G starts to mature and mmW equipment becomes proven ... Straight Path is the largest holder of 39GHz spectrum in the US with about 95 per cent of total issued licenses. Its 28GHz spectrum covers cities including New York and San Francisco."

Verizon also recently outlined plans to deploy universal customer-premises equipment (uCPE) to deliver customer-facing services using network functions virtualization (NFV), and shared details about a 5G network trial launched in Michigan with Cisco and Samsung. 

Keeping up with the Joneses
Not to be outdone by T-Mobile's ambitious 5G plans, Sprint seems to be eyeing its own 5G launch in the second half of 2019, using 2.5GHz spectrum, Light Reading reported. The operators is "collaborating with Japanese owner SoftBank Corp. and US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. on the development of 2.5GHz-based 5G technologies."

Light Reading noted that Sprint holds 2.5GHz licenses and indicated at Mobile World Congress this past February that it is interested in using that spectrum to provide 5G services.

Meanwhile, in Asia

In Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China Mobile recently boosted the performance of its LTE network with a pre-5G, massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) deployment using ZTE's latest generation of broadband base stations, Telecom TV reported. Use cases for include "large-traffic in universities and in-depth coverage in high-rise residential buildings." 

With this technology, Telecom TV added, "China Mobile says it can enhance network speed and capacity as well as the use of the existing network spectrum. By increasing the downlink capacity 3–5 times and uplink capacity 4–6 times, the ZTE solution provides users with '5G-like access experience' with LTE devices."

China Mobile also is teaming up with UMCloud (Mirantis), ARM, Cavium, and Enea to carry out a series of test projects at the operator's Open NFV lab, Light Reading reported. The lab now has 17 partners, "ranging from IT providers to Communication Technology companies, including chip manufacturers, hardware vendors, NFV platform vendors, virtual network function (VNF) manufacturers and test instrument manufacturers."