News Feature | March 3, 2020

The Week in 5G: 3/3/2020 — China Enlists 5G in Fight Against Covid-19; U.S. Mid-Band Spectrum Auction set for December

By Ed Biller


Dissatisfied with its progress — or lack thereof — against telecom rivals Huawei and Ericsson, Nokia has axed CEO Rajeev Suri, who will step down in August after six years leading the company. Per Bloomberg, Pekka Lundmark, currently president and chief executive of Finnish energy firm Fortum, will replace Suri.

China’s Huawei, meanwhile, is putting down roots in the EU, announcing last Thursday that it will invest more than 200 million euros (US $219m) in a France-based factory to meet the needs of its European customers.

Europe represents Huawei’s second-largest market after China, and Abacus reports the European facility will improve Huawei’s efficiency for a number of reasons: “[France’s] ideal geographic position on the continent, mature industrial infrastructure, and a highly educated labor pool.”

Next door, in Germany, the 5g rollout is well underway; the nation aims to connect 10 million people to the 5G network by the end of 2020. Further, the German telecoms regulator, FNA, has stipulated that operators who won 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz band licenses in 2019 supply minimum speeds of 100Mbps to at least 98 percent of households by the end of 2022, reports Verdict. “Operators must also install 1,000 5G base stations and additional 500 base stations in the ‘white spot’ areas.”

Of the nation’s three major operators, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone already launched 5G in 2019. O2 Germany plans rollouts across 30 cities covering a total of 16 million people by end of 2022; O2 Germany has collaborated with Huawei and Nokia equipment providers.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) completed a final vote Feb. 28 that clears the way to a mid-band spectrum — for use by providers of 5G wireless services — scheduled for December 2020.

MeriTalk reports that the FCC’s 3-2 vote “ordered that 280 megahertz of spectrum in the C-band be cleared no later than December 2025 so it can be repurposed for 5G providers. The spectrum is now used by satellite service providers, who are in line to receive $9.7 billion if they clear the spectrum early.”

However, legislators from both sides of the aisle criticized the move. U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, questioned the legality of the satellite incentives, while Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-LA) issued a statement complaining that “shelling out billions for airwaves we already own is no way to handle taxpayer money.”

In use case news, private and government entities are applying 5G to healthcare.

To wit, as China combats the COVID-19 outbreak, six smart robots using 5G technology have been working side by side with medics in Shanghai, reports XinhuaNet. Seven 5G base stations have been established near the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center to ensure telecommunications services.

“The robots, developed by China Mobile's Shanghai Branch, are used for tasks such as disinfecting and cleaning patient areas and delivering medicine to reduce the risk of cross-infection and ensure the safety of medics,” states the report.

Also, according to PYMNTS, Walmart and Verizon are ironing out a deal to create a 5G wireless network at various Walmart locations. The report states that a trial run will begin with a pair of Walmart locations “to test new digital health practices the retailer wants to start offering to employees and shoppers. The tech would also have the effect of providing faster wireless connections for the other store operations and for the surrounding community.”

A successful endeavor could boost Walmart’s standing as a medical treatment hub, in addition to its staples of groceries and clothes, as well as improve store security systems and enable better inventory tracking.

Finally, per TechRepublic, a VIAVI report — "The State of 5G Deployments" — states VIAVI 5G has been deployed “in 378 cities across 34 countries as of January 2020. Leading the pack is South Korea with coverage in 85 cities. China takes second place with 57 cities, followed by the US with 50 and the UK with 31. The remaining countries in the top ten for 5G are Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, Germany, and Romania.”