5G Factor: Chips Ahoy! How Chips are Integral to 5G Transformation with Qualcomm Promoting 5G Standalone, Juniper Beyond Labs Using Intel Xeon/FlexRAN, and Samsung MediaTek Boosting 3Tx Antennas

5G Factor- Chips Ahoy! How Chips are Integral to 5G Transformation with Qualcomm Promoting 5G Standalone, Juniper Beyond Labs Using Intel Xeon:FlexRAN, and Samsung MediaTek Boosting 3Tx Antennas

In this episode of The 5G Factor, our series that focuses on all things 5G, the IoT, and the ecosystem as a whole, I’m joined by my colleague and fellow analyst, Clint Wheelock, for a look at 5G news and what’s going on that caught our eye.

Our conversation focused on:

Qualcomm Calls for 5G to Standalone. In a recent blog, Qualcomm advocates that many of the key innovations in 5G require 5G Standalone (SA) — a network architecture that can allow new, differentiated services which can be monetized for new revenue streams. However, only 22% of the 524 operators investing in 5G networks are investing in 5G SA. We provide our perspective on why more operators need to deploy 5G SA to accelerate the pace of innovation across the 5G ecosystem and what benefits 5G SA brings in contrast to 5G non-standalone (NSA) implementations.

Juniper’s New Beyond Labs Aims to Solve Biggest Challenges of Experience-First Networking Era. Juniper Networks Beyond Labs is a fresh initiative focused on shaping the future of the networking and IT industries with emphasis on pioneering research and experimental technology developments. For Juniper customers and partners, such as Eurofiber and Intel, along with the broader academic community like Purdue University, Juniper Beyond Labs will provide an opportunity to influence research directions and pathfinding projects. We provide our views on Juniper extending its collaboration with Intel and work on the integration of the Intel FlexRAN Reference Architecture, private 5G networks, Juniper RIC and the Juniper Cloud-Native Router on Intel Xeon processors, can enable new capabilities that advance 5G transformation.

Samsung Electronics and MediaTek Demonstrate 5G Uplink Capabilities with Three Transmit Antenna. Samsung and MediaTek successfully completed testing of 5G Standalone Uplink (UL) 2CC Carrier Aggregation with C-Band UL MIMO to improve uplink speeds. The Suwon, Korea-based lab demo used three transmit (3Tx) antennas to improve upload experiences. We consider and review what 5G ecosystem benefits 3Tx capabilities can provide across the 5G ecosystem in areas such as cloud gaming, video collaboration platforms, and live streaming.

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Ron Westfall: Hello, and welcome everyone to The 5G Factor. I’m Ron Westfall, research director here at Futurum Research. And today I’m joined by my distinguished colleague, Clint Wheelock, our chief research officer. And naturally we’re very pleased to have him joining us today. And to recap, we are diving into our show called The 5G Factor. And it’s all about the 5G ecosystem as well as IoT, and basically all things that are related to the ecosystem that have caught our eye recently. So Clint, great to see you and welcome to your initial foray on The 5G Factor. And how’s it going? Tell us a bit about yourself.

Clint Wheelock: Well thanks a lot, Ron. It’s really good to be here, and always good to catch up on some of the latest developments in the wireless industry. It’s funny, I’ve been involved in the mobile industry for about four out of the five Gs at this point. My involvement in the industry began at a regional carrier. I was in product management, product development, more than 20 years ago when we were rolling out 2G PCS networks. So we’ve come a long way.

But I got to say, it’s funny some of the killer apps… And I started off as a wireless industry analyst about 20 years ago as well. And it’s funny how some of the killer apps we were talking about way back when, for 3G, are finally being realized with the rollout of 5G networks. The low latency, the high bandwidth. A lot of it’s the same story, but man have the capabilities changed a lot.

But in any case, it’s been great to be able to keep a hand in the space over the years, really working with some fantastic industry analyst teams. And so this feels a lot like returning home, and it’s great to be here on The 5G Factor today.

Ron Westfall: Right on. Yeah, it’s like Back to the Future.

Clint Wheelock: Exactly.

Ron Westfall: Four of the five Gs, that’s a great line, I might borrow it. And long live 5G itself because it’s-

Clint Wheelock: I think you’ve been around for at least four Gs yourself, if not all five.

Ron Westfall: Excellent, excellent. And yes, I think we can kick off. And I think one thing that caught our eye is that Qualcomm just shared its perspective on the state of the 5G market in a recent blog. Specifically, they’re calling out for 5G to stand alone. In other words, that’s the high noon scenario for 5G. And that would certainly be welcomed when it comes to 5G standalone implementations. And as a little background to enable and energize the initial 5G standards, that started with 3GPP Release 15, now that was implemented for 5G standalone starting in 2017.

And as a result across the mobile ecosystem, 5G non-standalone was implemented in the first wave of 5G deployments that we witnessed. Now the 5G NSA architecture non-standalone allows a new 5G radio access network to augment existing 4G core and RAND capabilities. And since NSA or non-standalone didn’t require a 5G core network to be deployed, mobile operators were able to accelerate their 5G timelines and bring, for example, 5G enhanced mobile broadband enhances to their customers sooner as result.

Today, 5G non-standalone is globally adopted and it’s delivering enhanced smartphone experiences, as we’ve seen. However, many of the key innovations in 5G require 5G standalone to literally be standing alone. As the network architecture that is developed and designed to allow new differentiated services that could be more readily monetized for new revenue service as one example. But basically for innovation across the board.

And so Clint, from your perspective, how do you see 5G standalone making a difference in advancing the 5G market and moving the 5G ecosystem forward? And basically getting away from the excess hype that we witnessed over the last few years with 5G standalone. And getting us more focused on real world practical applications and services. What’s your view?

Clint Wheelock: Well, I mean I thought the Qualcomm news and the report, the key findings were spot on. And I mean it really does seem like there are some key areas for 5G standalone can be a terrific difference maker. Mainly those that focus around delivering low latency experiences. So few examples, scaling, delay sensitive applications like extended reality including virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and the like. And essentially the building blocks of the metaverse that’s right around the corner. Which can expand some of the availability of cloud gaming and similar applications for consumers.

And then on the enterprise and industrial side of things, enterprise and industrial applications, things like digital twins, just to name a few things. And then also, as I know you know Ron, there’s a huge growth in independent private wireless networks that use network slicing, wireless ethernet, programmability to meet some really demanding use cases. And these private networks are really picking up momentum and a lot of market acceptance right now.

Ron Westfall: Yeah, that’s spot on, Clint. And I also see as another, I think, prime example is wide area IoT gaining ecosystem traction. Particularly as capabilities such as new radio light reduced capabilities that enable device stream lighting for improved cost efficiency. And that is referred to in shorthand as RedCap. And so from my perspective, this can aid the 5G private network adoption, as well as introduce no new momentum for this adoption when RedCap becomes more readily available.

And the good news here is that 3GPP Release 17 basically solidify that part of the standard. And it can start paving the way for standardized implementations across 5G networks towards the end of 2024. So definitely RedCap capabilities will play a major role in making 5G standalone more successful and more commercially available. And as a additional background, specifically as of Q1 of this year, over 83% of all announced 5G devices supported 5G standalone. However, but only 22% of the 524 operators out there that have already invested in 5G networks, are also investing in 5G standalone.

And as such, we’re seeing the need for more operators to implement 5G standalone to further incentivize, for example, the developer community. To prioritize 5G application development in areas such as digital twin technologies and other areas that we already touched on, for example, more advanced cloud gaming capabilities and so forth. So this I think is a tremendous upside that we’re really we’re only at the front end of the 5G journey as a result, even though we’ve already gone through this hype cycle that isn’t unique to 5G. We’ve seen it with other technologies such as Voice over IP and Metaverse that we touched on and many other technologies. But what we’re now getting is a level set. The ability to see that 5G is really just at the front end of the capabilities that it can deliver. And a lot of it’s going to depend on 5G standalone being implemented by more operators.

And for additional context, when the operators saw that Release 15 came out, that allowed basically for the foundation of a 5G standalone architecture. That is enabling 5G core capabilities to actually line up, be aligned fully with 5G new radio capabilities and overall RAND capabilities. And so we’re still seeing the operators relying heavily on their previous implementation of LTE 4G core. But it’s really with the 5G core implementations that we’ll see, I think, many of these breakthroughs.

And that I think started coming with a Release 16, which basically addressed the needs of specific verticals such as in the industrial area as well as enterprises and very exciting automotive use cases. But also what was important about Release 16 is that it introduced precise positioning. And so this I think will be integral to how 5G use cases can really take off in, for example, the enterprise industrial realms.

But also with now Release 17 becoming more mature, again, those RedCap capabilities are going to enable the ecosystem out there to take advantage of those 5G IoT use cases. That I think will be difference makers in terms of, for example, the monetization that we talked about. But also, certainly those extended reality use cases that are all basically predicated on 5G standalone being implemented.

And so I think on that note, we can wrap up the fact that the 5G market really is headed toward a lot more potential. And we didn’t even touch on 5G-Advanced in this conversation. So-

Clint Wheelock: I have to say, I mean it’s just fascinating to see what a long runway we have with the proliferation and growth of some of these key 5G applications. I mean a lot for the operators left to enable as you’re mentioning. And then when we think about long tail applications, we typically think about kind of niche markets and things like that. But some of these are really substantial opportunities.

Ron Westfall: So true. And I think that segues very well into a second topic that caught her eye and that is Juniper just recently unveiled its Juniper Beyond Labs initiative. And this is focused on shaping the future of network and IT industries with the goal of pioneering a more research driving more pathfinding projects. And basically just spurring experimental approaches toward how technology is developed. And from your perspective, Clint, what’s your take on Juniper Beyond Labs initiative at this point?

Clint Wheelock: I was really encouraged by the Beyond Labs initiative. I think for the Juniper customers and partners like EuroFiber and Intel, along with, I have to say the broader academic community like Purdue University. This Beyond Labs initiative should provide a great opportunity to influence research directions and pathfinding projects. And some of those contributions could spur some proof of concept demos. The ability to provide feedback to shape the direction of that fundamental research as well. And seems that the participating members should have access to Juniper Beyond Labs research and innovation along the way.

So I think it’s a nice initiative that really helps to expand the ecosystem and really spur some innovation along the lines of what we were just talking about with the growth of new applications.

Ron Westfall: Yeah, I agree fully, Clint. And I think it’s also important to understand that this is directly applicable to 5G networking and the 5G ecosystem. For example, we see Juniper extending its collaboration with Intel and working on the integration of the Intel FlexRAN reference architecture as well as private 5G networks.

Juniper RAN Intelligent Controller and the Juniper Cloud-Native Router on Intel Xeon processors as a part of this initiative. And all this is aimed at enabling new capabilities that can support 5G transformation. And as additional context, the Intel FlexRAN is a reference architecture for virtualized radio access networks or vRans, as well as enabling and advancing software defined networking and network function virtualization across 5G network fabrics.

And I think this is notable because Rakuten Mobile, for example, announced that it is committed to continuing with Intel’s FlexRAN architecture and chip technology for layer one processing in its next phase of implementing distributed units. And this is all important, for example, Open RAN innovation. But also ensuring that the ecosystem has the technology in place to enable the operators and all the other partners and naturally the end customers, to be able to take full advantage of these 5G standalone capabilities that we elaborated on. And with that, do you see anything else that caught your eye out there, Clint?

Clint Wheelock: Well, as we were looking through the stories and some of the key developments, one thing I thought was interesting that we were talking about, is the Samsung and Mediatech announcement. About completing their successful testing of 5G standalone uplink for carrier aggregation. And I think that has C-band uplink MIMO to achieve the top uplink speeds. And it seems that this is a pretty notable achievement in expanding and improving the mobile wireless capabilities. And I’m curious what your take is on that, Ron?

Ron Westfall: Oh yeah, you bet. And yeah, this approach I see is using what we can understand as three transmit antennas. So that in itself is a breakthrough. Because it’s with these three transmit antennas that we can improve upload experiences. And I believe this is going to be integral to ushering in an era of enhanced connectivity for customers, including consumers and businesses worldwide.

And as we’ve seen, the demands on uplink performance are increasing with the rise of applications such as live-streaming, multiplayer gaming, and video conferences and so forth. And now to be clear, upload speeds determine how fast your device can send data to gaming servers or transmit, for example, high resolution videos to the cloud. As we see more customers seek to document and share their experiences with the world in real time. These enhanced uplink experiences are going to be a difference maker when it comes to not only improving of the network performance we touched on, but also improving the overall experience for all the users out there.

And so what we’re seeing today is that smartphones and customer premise equipment can only support two transmit antennas. And as such, this industry first demo validates the enhanced mobile capabilities of three transmit antenna technology. And so this is exciting. This approach not only improves uploads speeds, but also has added benefits such as enhancing spectrum and data transmission efficiency, as well as, logically the overall performance of the network itself.

And notably, this test was conducted in Samsung’s lab in Suwon, Korea. And they provided their own 5G network solutions, including the C-band massive MIMO radios. As well as the virtualized distributed unit, as well as the core for this testing. And so really this is, I think, an innovation we’ll be keeping a close eye on. And on this positive note, again, thank you very much, Clint, for joining our show today. I think people are delighted to hear your perspective and look forward to having you on additional 5G Factor shows as they arise.

Clint Wheelock: Well, thanks Ron. I really appreciate it. Great opportunity, fun time, good discussion. And we can’t always talk about game changers, but I think we talked about a few key difference makers as we kept on referring to them today.

So that’s great incremental progress within the industry and really kind of exciting to think about what’s around the corner. But thanks again so much for having me and looking forward to joining again sometime soon.

Ron Westfall: Oh, you bet. And yes, yeah, that’s a typical July. Some difference makers, but nothing quite ultra transformative I guess, more to throw out there.

Clint Wheelock: Difference makers, we will take them on day one.

Ron Westfall: Thumbs up. And to our viewing audience and listening audience, thanks again for spending time with us and we look forward again to seeing you on our next 5G Factor webcast. Good day, all.

Other insights from The Futurum Group:

5G Factor: Why the Cloud is Key to the Nokia/Red Hat Deal, Azure for Operators 5G Modern Connected Apps Push, and the Completion of the HPE Acquisition of Athonet

Futurum Tech Webcast – Qualcomm, Schneider Electric, and Capgemini Hoist Private 5G Capabilities to New Levels

Cisco Live 2023: Cisco and AT&T Join Forces to Elevate Mobile Experience for Hybrid Workforces

Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.

Clint brings over 20 years of market research and consulting experience, focused on emerging technology markets. He was co-founder and CEO of Dash Network, an integrated research and digital media firm focused on the CX market, which was acquired by The Futurum Group in 2022. He previously founded Tractica with a focus on human interaction with technology, including coverage of AI, user interface technologies, advanced computing, and other emerging sectors. Acquired by Informa Group, Clint served as Chief Research Officer for Informa’s research division, Omdia, with management and content strategy responsibility, formed by the combination of Tractica, Ovum, IHS Markit Technology, and Heavy Reading.
Clint was previously the founder and President of Pike Research, a leading market intelligence firm focused on the global clean technology industry, which was acquired by Navigant Consulting where he was Managing Director of the Navigant Research business.

Prior to Pike Research, Clint was Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, a New York-based industry analyst firm concentrating on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.

Clint holds a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington & Lee University.


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