News Feature | October 22, 2019

The Week in 5G: 10/22/2019 — U.S. 5G Policy Earns Kudos, Hong Kong Auctions Spectrum, Verizon Pumps Brakes on 5G Pixel 4

By Ed Biller


According to an ongoing Forbes series, the United States is the global leader in 5G policy and regulation, earning an “A” grade; Forbes contributor Will Townsend granted China a “B+,” the Asia Pacific region a “B,” and Western Europe a “C.”

Townsend based his first-place assessment of the U.S. on the strength of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 5G FAST Plan, as well as the fact that the U.S. is the only nation to “deploy both Sub 6 and mmWave spectrum for future 5G services.” He notes, though, that the U.S. lags behind other regions when it comes to consortia and other such strategic partnerships.

Verizon is doing its part this week, launching 5G Home Internet in parts of Chicago, built on the power of the telco’s 3GPP-compliant 5G Ultra-Wideband Network, according to a statement from the company.

Verizon claims the service’s customers will “enjoy typical speeds of 300 Mbps and peak speeds of 1 Gbps on the first commercially available Wi-Fi 6 router complete with parental controls, a powerful 10W speaker with Bluetooth playback and Wi-Fi capability,” as well as an Amazon Alexa built into the router.

Also this week, Ericsson and NVIDIA announced a collaboration “on technologies that can allow communication service providers to build high-performing, efficient and completely virtualized 5G radio access networks (RAN).”

The companies’ stated goal is to “commercialize virtualized RAN technologies to deliver radio networks with flexibility and shorter time to market for new services, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and gaming.”

Meanwhile, China’s Huawei claims to be “in early stage talks with some U.S. telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them,” reports Reuters, citing “a Huawei executive.”

In Hong Kong, the city-state’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) auctioned off 200 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band – at a total cost of about HK$1B -- to four mobile network operators: China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited (CMHK), Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited (HKT), Hutchison Telephone Company Limited (HTCL), and SmarTone Mobile Communications Limited (SmarTone).

In nearby Singapore, telecom regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced last week that the city-state will roll out four commercial 5G networks in 2020: two standalone 5G networks with nationwide coverage and two localized 5G networks.

In lieu of a spectrum auction, IMDA has asked operators to submit proposals for the 5G spectrum. Depending on the operators’ “financial capability, network security design and ability to achieve [a] 50 percent [nationwide] coverage goal by the end of 2022,” IMDA will provide the top two competitors with the “most efficient spectrum available,” reports RCR Wireless. Remaining operators will receive less bandwidth to apply to localized services.

In tech news, PC Mag reports that Verizon did not introduce a 5G version of its Pixel 4 phone – though industry pundits had expected such a model to be announced – for fairly obvious reasons.

“Now is not the right time to buy a 5G phone. Both from a deployment perspective—the coverage is not broadly available in enough places for enough users to benefit from it—[and] from a hardware and phone perspective—it’s still power hungry [and] immature,” said Brian Rakowski, Google's VP of product management.

China’s Xiaomi begs to differ, though. CEO Lei Jun, citing concerns that demand for 4G phones will plummet in 2020, stated that his company is committed to producing at least 10 5G phones in 2020, reports Digital Trends. Xiaomi launched its first 5G phone in China — the Mi 9 Pro 5G — last month.