News Feature | March 10, 2020

The Week in 5G: 3/10/2020 — AT&T Expands mmWave Network Access; Nokia Takes $561M Loan To Boost 5G Tech Development

By Ed Biller


AT&T last week announced Thursday that its 5G mmWave network now available to everyone; the network previously was only available to business customers. Per CNBC, the first phones supporting mmWave and low band 5G — the Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra — launched on AT&T the day after the announcement.

The carrier also announced last that it will partner with Alphabet's Google to deliver 5G services to business customers, according to a report by The Motley Fool. At&T and Google will jointly develop test software and state products, states the report, targeting “the retail, manufacturing and transportation markets initially, but could expand into other areas. AT&T will offer its 5G business customers those services through Google Cloud.”

Verizon Business has undertaken a different kind of partnership, inking a deal with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) “to support its mission to tackle some of the world’s greatest science and technology challenges in areas like national security, energy efficiency and scientific discovery,” according to a press release.

Verizon will install its 5G Ultra Wideband network at PNNL’s Richland, Wash., location, allowing PNNL to “advise federal sponsors on how 5G could impact their operations and infrastructures when deploying 5G,” and giving PNNL researchers and corporate partners an opportunity to test how Verizon’s capabilities “can enhance machine learning, artificial intelligence and AR/VR applications used in fields ranging from public safety to computing and analytics.”

In other rollout news, Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank Corp. will launch 5G services on March 27. Per Japan Times, SoftBank “plans to charge an additional ¥1,000 ($9) per month for 5G but will exempt existing and new customers for two years under a sales campaign that will run through August.”

New 5G-capable handsets will be necessary to access the services, and SoftBank said it will provide 5G smartphones from Sharp, China’s ZTE Corp. and Oppo Co., and South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc.

Meanwhile, according to its annual report – scrutinized by Channel News Asia — Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia drew a €500 million (US$561 million) loan last month “to help it to accelerate development of 5G technology.”

CNA reports that the company’s finances “have been in focus since it halted dividend payments in late 2019 and said it would need to invest more than previously expected in development of its 5G equipment.” The revelation comes just a week after it was revealed that Nokia was parting ways with CEO Rajeev Suri after six years; Suri will be replaced by former executive Pekka Lundmark.

In other news, Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will establish a 5G technology lab in India after doubling its R&D employee base in that nation to 600 this year, reports The Economic Times. ET reports that OnePlus was No.1 premium smartphone brand in India in 2019.

Finally, according to GSMA’s annual state of the global mobile economy report, 5G now is live in 24 markets globally. Tech Crunch reported on GSMA’s findings, stating “79 operators across a further 39 markets [have] announced plans to launch commercial 5G services as of January 20, 2020.”

Although the report forecasts that 5G will account for one-fifth of global connections by 2025, it notes that the presence of 5G in a market does not mean universal coverage.