inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 3 | January 2021

 

inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 3 | January 2021

 

CSPs Strive to Monetize and Reap the Benefit of 5G Investments

January 2021: Major Communications Service Providers (CSPs) in North America who embarked upon the 5G journey in 2018 have come a long way in 2 years’ time. The USA and Canada combined have 7 commercial deployments as of September 2020 serving 6 million 5G subscribers, and the industry estimates capital spend worth $300 Billion USD from 2019 to 2025 to fully deploy 5G. CSPs have already made significant investments in upgrading their RAN and Core infrastructures to launch 5G services and will continue to invest in coming years as they expand coverage. But the key question–how to monetize the investments–remains unanswered!

Operationalizing 5G strategy has two critical components– (a)defining the commercial model for each 5G offering (b) defining an organization-wide operating model that enables multiple commercial models. A close synergy between commercial models and the operating model is imperative to successfully monetize 5G Investment.

It is critical that CSPs effectively operationalize 5G strategy and business models to unleash the full revenue potential in consumer and enterprise segments.

Challenges in Activities Associated with Operationalizing 5G Strategy

Operationalizing 5G strategy involves multiple activities and also has several challenges. Most likely, there are further underlying enablement issues which are directly or indirectly related to operationalization challenges. The enablement issues are gaps in required resources (e.g. processes, competencies, tools, etc.) to resolve the operationalization challenges.

Complexity Increases as CSPs Explore New Verticals and Applications

For example, if a CSP wants to sell Private Networks to an electric utility, it could consider a network builder model targeting a specific utility type and a network as-a service model for other utility types. Next, it would define the value proposition, use cases, industry partners, pricing model, and promotion strategy for each business model. As the number of target customer types increases, so does the complexity.

  • The analysis gets more complex when the exercise is done for multiple industries and considers the impact of synergies and interdependencies among verticals on internal operations like OSS/BSS systems and functional processes
  • Complexities further increase when this entire exercise is repeated for multiple products like network slicing, edge compute, etc.

Finally, the complexity will only increase as 5G matures, we find new applications and move into new industries. Additional factors like a changing competitive environment in a market and an evolving ecosystem are unavoidable realities. The impact of all this complexity on the organization’s internal operations including processes, people, and technologies can only be imagined!

inCode’s Framework Mitigates CSPs Challenges

inCode and Ericsson have experience in consulting with CSPs to streamline internal operations. Read more about our findings on operators’ challenges from multiple consulting engagements around the globe in the whitepaper.

Download Whitepaper on CSPs’ 5G Challenges

inCode and Ericsson have designed a project methodology and framework that will guide operators in operationalizing 5G Strategy

The Project Methodology is a step by step approach to design a blueprint which will resolve operationalization challenges. It has four sequential phases which begins with analyzing the CSP’s current operational health and ends with defining a roadmap to reach the desired end-state. Each phase has three workstreams to ensure that CSP’s operations are aligned with overall 5G
business strategy, network strategy, and creates synergies within the overall operations function. This methodology is supported by a framework that provides a structured approach to visualize, define, and validate CSP’s specific 5G operationalization needs. It also serves as a tool to help analyze the holistic and cross-functional impact of 5G business models on internal operations. inCode’s library of assets and tools can be used to expedite project delivery.

For questions or assistance please e-mail info@incodeconsulting.com

inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 2 | November 2020

inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 2 | November 2020

CBRS Brings Exciting Opportunities to All Types of Bidders

November 2020:
The Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) Priority Access License(PAL) auction concluded in late August 2020. The auction had 271 qualified bidders including an array of companies from mobile network operators and cable companies, to electric utilities, universities, real estate firms, and large enterprises. The bids topped $4.5Billion and 228 bidders won 20,625 or 91% of the available licenses.

 

CBRS spectrum is 150 MHz of radio frequency from 3.55GHz to 3.7GHz authorized by the FCC for shared commercial use among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority access license holders, and generally authorized unlicensed users. This lightly-licensed and re-leasable approach opened up the band for non-traditional bidders who did not have to be or seek eligible telecommunications carrier, or ETC, status as part of the auction process. Therefore, CBRS democratized spectrum enables new business models for non-traditional wireless players like hospitals, universities, utilities, and others. Finally, the elimination of spectrum partitioning by technology and service models will also accelerate new indoor and outdoor use cases.

 

Spectrum Sharing Drives New Use Cases

The Private LTE’s addressable market will reach $6B USD by 2025 and is expected to grow at a 5-year CAGR of 36%

 

Key Industry Applications for CBRS Private LTE Networks

The CBRS Alliance developed the OnGo™ certification program and established a set of standards for performance and interoperability of CBRS solutions to help drive market adoption.
OnGo provides the robustness of carrier grade connectivity (LTE/5GNR) and the simplicity of self-installed access points.

The Low Cost of CBRS Spectrum Creates New Opportunities

The low cost of acquiring CBRS spectrum opens new business opportunities which were prohibitively expensive in the past. The chipset and equipment ecosystem will provide the benefits of large scale manufacturing to provide lower cost solutions.

Comparative Economics of Indoor and Outdoor Deployments

OnGo is cost-competitive with MNO small cells and Wi-Fi. It brings the LTE benefits of security, reliability, and spectral efficiency to neutral host deployments

 

inCode at the intersection of CBRS and Private LTE

inCode Consulting has extensive experience designing spectrum auction strategies, a deep understanding of the benefits and limitations posed by various spectrum bands, and recent project experience designing Private LTE strategies for enterprises. A sample of inCode’s recent experience with a US-based utility customer is illustrated below.

For questions or assistance please e-mail: info@incodeconsulting.com

Today’s utilities, tomorrow’s networks

Today's utilities, tomorrow's networks

Today’s utilities, tomorrow’s networks

Authors: Raj Sonak, Najeed Khan

To address industry modernization and digitalization needs in the utilities sector, the use of 3GPP connectivity and LTE/5G-based cellular private networks on licensed and unlicensed spectrums is growing. US-based utilities believe they need secure, scalable and prioritized control of their infrastructure and can justify the ROI from private networks, encouraging them to seek out custom-built solutions, including spectrum and investment considerations. Availability of access to spectrum, in both the low-band (900MHz) and mid-band (CBRS), has accelerated the consideration for investments in private networks.

A number of these companies have run POCs on experimental 900MHz licenses for private LTE networks:

  1. Ameren, a large electric utility company based in the US Midwest, has signed an LOI with Anterix (the owner of 900MHz spectrum assets), which is expected to result in the first signed commercial agreement.
  2. Southern Company, based in Atlanta, is one of the 10 largest US electric and gas utilities and the first to implement its own LTE network. It has deployed private LTE networks for utilities on the sub-1GHz spectrum.
  3. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Colorado, specializes in renewable and efficient energy research and development. Funded by the US Department of Energy, it has successfully demonstrated increased reliability of a distributed generation system on 900MHz.
  4. Exelon, the largest electric parent company in the US based on revenue, was granted an experimental 900MHz license in October 2019 and is initially piloting sites in Maryland.
  5. NYPA, the largest public power utility in the US, aims to be the one of the first digital utility companies and is looking to deploy private LTE for several use cases, including mobility and drones.

Many countries are considering offering spectrum specifically for utilities. In the US, as of May 2020, the FCC has cleared a 3×3 TDD block in the 900MHz band for private network communications. Such low-band spectrum is ideal for wider coverage, and therefore the best fit economically for private network buildout, supporting mission-critical applications.

Utilities have several options for deploying networks: partnering with CSPs, securing their own spectrum, and taking a hybrid approach. While opex reduction is one of the primary drivers for US utilities, each business model poses different levels of benefit, risk, financial flexibility, reliability and control.

The economic analysis in this paper is based on multiple engagements with different-sized utilities in the US. The specific results referenced reflect a medium-sized, vertically integrated utility with generation, transmission and distribution facilities covering both electricity and gas in multiple US states. The model can accommodate smaller or larger utilities with different footprints, densities and operational parameters. For this analysis we assume a typical situation with an existing wireless network comprised of multiple technologies, many becoming obsolete.

These technologies could include WiMAX and P25 LMR and be used for inter-substation transport, metering infrastructure and real- time communications.

To address the challenges, Ericsson’s business strategy and technology consulting division inCode Consulting analyzed the usage demand, network capacity requirements and economic aspects of building a private cellular network, including an investment
and deployment roadmap and based on a portfolio of use cases. It was important to understand the data and bandwidth demands of traditional mission-critical systems, such as SCADA, DA, DER, tele-protection and mission- critical push-to-talk. Consideration was also given to mobile workforces of linespersons and engineers, who require sufficient bandwidth for their mobility needs and for smart meter rollout across service areas, as well as the need for a network able to support evolving and advanced use cases in the future, such as UAV and AR-based asset management.

The use case analysis was followed by an assessment of the spectrum options, where the feasibility of using 900MHz and CBRS bands to support the use cases was investigated. Each spectrum band comes with unique considerations of coverage, capacity, cost and availability. It is important to study the spectrum from these perspectives in order to develop a TCO model, outlining capital and operational expenses. As mentioned in the cited case study, the utility company has an existing infrastructure of communication towers, site leases, owned and leased fiber routes and microwave backhaul, which should be optimally reused to minimize capital and operating costs. Lastly, an ROI analysis justifies the spend and how private networks can offset existing capital and operating expenses.

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inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 1 | October 2020

inCode inSights | Newsletter Volume 1 | October 2020

Millions Still Don’t Have Access to Broadband Internet in 2020

Federal Funds Available and inCode Can Help

How is it possible in 2020 that so many people in North America still lack access to a high-speed internet connection? Despite advancements in communications technology, the cost to connect the hardest-to-reach people on the continent has largely not justified the investment. As a result, both the Canadian and United States governments have pledged billions of dollars for up to 10 years to help operators of broadband networks offset costs needed to bridge the digital divide. And while the deadlines to apply for some funds have already passed, more money is available in 2021. Read on to learn what these programs are and how inCode can help companies with the funding process and deployment strategies.

Nearly Half of Americans Lack Quality Broadband

FCC Data Overestimates Coverage

Data from an update published in March of this year by the Microsoft Airband Initiative, show that more than 157 million Americans still do not use the internet at broadband speeds. This number contrasts starkly with the FCC’s own figure of only 21.3 million not covered published in February 2020. A known flaw with FCC Form 477 reporting which counts all households as “covered” even if only one is served is responsible for the discrepancy. In the United States, the minimal broadband performance speed is only 25 megabits per second (Mbps)download and 3 Mbps upload.

Rural/Northern Canadians Need More Reliable Internet

More than 4 Million Lack Broadband

While increasing steadily to almost 7 million since 2000, the Canadian rural population as a percentage of the total population has been in decline for decades as urban growth soars. Because of the sheer vastness of the territory, connecting people in rural and remote areas is very challenging. Six in 10rural households (63%) still do not have reliable access to high speed internet.

inCode Can Help Develop Broadband Funding Strategy

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Formerly called the Connect America Fund, the $20.4B Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) will hold its Phase I auction on October 29th and target up to $16 billion in assistance for census areas in states entirely without voice or broadband service. Phase II will award the remaining $4.4 billion to census blocks not addressed in Phase I and to partially underserved areas.

The FCC has pledged to support RDOF subsidies for 10 years commencing in 2021 to encourage long-term investments and auction participation. Funds can be used for initial network deployment, ongoing operational and maintenance costs, and ongoing delivery of services.

5G Fund for Rural America

As a result of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) ruling on April 23,2020 another $9 billion has been set aside to support a new 5G Fund for Rural America focused on deploying wireless broadband and voice services in rural and other hard-to-serve areas. The 5G Fund excludes areas covered by the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

As with RDOF, the FCC plans to award5G fund support through a “reverse” auction in two phases, where the provider offering to serve an area with the fastest speeds for the least amount of money will be the winner.

Support recipients will be required to provide a minimum cell-edge download speed of 7/1 Mbps, with a 90%coverage probability and 50% cell loading factor. The FCC will also cap supported service latency at 100milliseconds per round trip.

Finally, at least one service plan with a data allowance equaling the average U.S. subscriber’s data usage must be offered at rates “reasonably comparable” to those offered in urban areas and be subject to collocation and roaming obligations.

 

Universal Broadband Fund

The Canadian government is committed to providing universal high-speed 50/10 Mbps internet and has pledged billions of dollars to partners who can deliver broadband connectivity to 90% of Canadians by2021, 95% by 2026, and to the hardest-to-reach Canadians by 2030.

A $1.7B Universal Broadband Infrastructure Fund was created to support new projects for up to 10 years like low-Earth orbit satellite capacity, continued support for the successful Connect to Innovate program, and two new Statistics Canada surveys to measure broadband usage.

The federal government will also contribute $2 billion to Ontario’s $30BInvesting in Canada Infrastructure Program to support new broadband projects in rural and northern communities.

CRTC Broadband Fund

Up to $750 million in support over the next five years is available from The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission(CRTC). Projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure to provide fixed and mobile wireless broadband internet services in eligible underserved areas will be considered.

Five projects have recently been selected to receive the first round of CRTC Broadband Funds, and the second call for applications is now closed. However, more funds from the Universal Broadband Fund are still available to support projects through2025.

Other Loans and Private Investment

The Canada Infrastructure Bank will support up to $1 billion in federally backed loans and provide at least $2billion in private investment to make the impact of publicly funded projects and loans go further.

Learn more about Canada’s Connectivity Strategy

New Coverage Reporting Method Required

Some operators in both the United States and Canada are now required to submit internet maps in a geocoded format containing coverage shapes, or polygons, which show geospatially where residential broadband services are available as part of their applications for funds as well as ongoing access to lines of credit. In the U.S. only wireline broadband providers are held to this standard because reporting requirements to apply to bid in upcoming auctions for the 5G Fund for Rural America are still being debated.


In Canada, only Last Mile broadband coverage must be reported with these accompanying maps. However, Canadian operators must also provide detailed information about where tower locations, antennas, and other technologies are found as part of their applications.

 

inCode Can Assist with Network Planning and Bid Strategy

inCode Consulting has experience assisting operators with every facet of the network planning and broadband auction process -from coverage mapping and FWA site planning to war room strategy. We can create updated coverage maps for submission with operator applications including the locations of nearest network assets (i.e. mobile towers, Wi-Fi hotspots, cable and fiber lines), identify access to backhaul, and overlay geographic constraints like topography and extreme weather which may interfere with signal propagation. Our consultants will assess and provide details around the financial viability of the census tract in question and advise on bidder pricing strategy.

Ultimately, the applicant who submits the lowest price with the most robust broadband service wins, but fund recipients will be required to provide coverage at committed performance levels to 100% of households in the census tract within a defined period of time, then monitor and provide regular performance reports in order to continue to draw on letters of credit. Therefore, it’s important that interested applicants not well-versed in these areas choose an experienced partner, like inCode, to assist them.

For more information, contact us at info@incodeconsulting.com

 

Edge Computing for IoT Use Cases

iot

Edge Computing for IoT Use Cases

Author: Collin Freer

Edge computing moves data processing from centralized cloud-based data centers to distributed locations (e.g. radio towers or Baseband Unit hotels) closer to where the data are needed. Placing computing power closer to the area of need reduces latency. It also allows individual devices to spin up or spin down network functions in response to local demand. A multi-access edge computing (MEC) server in the middle can push computing functions down to local devices where possible or retain certain functions itself.

The Role of Edge Computing and Network Slicing

This goes hand-in-hand with network slicing as a facilitator for enterprise IoT. Users have diverse and often conflicting network needs (reliability, responsiveness, security, etc.) Network slicing partitions a given network to tailor the characteristics of a slice to the needs of similar users. The result is multiple dedicated networks on a common platform, operating independently on a common infrastructure.

Where computation is localized with edge computing and networks are sliced to meet the needs of individual enterprise users, those users can have networks that perfectly fit their needs. Those networks will also be able to handle the unique demands of smart supply chains, smart building management, or any other IoT application.

MNOs that can partner with enterprise users to offer bespoke edge computing and network slicing services will facilitate next-generation IoT use cases. Those that build up core competencies in those areas now will lead the way in these pioneering applications.

Edge Computing for IoT Use Cases

Broadly available consumer internet of things (IoT) hardware with which most people are familiar has only scratched the surface of the technology’s potential. Business-facing use cases such as smart building management and increasingly automated warehousing and manufacturing operations are set to provide enormous functionality and, in so doing, present challenges for networks. As the quantity of data produced, the low-latency required and the usage explode, edge computing will provide essential support.

Emerging B2B IoT Use Cases

Many emerging business-to-business use cases involve small and passive devices, with computation handled not by the device, but by the server. As these use cases proliferate, they will drive demand for edge computing.

For example, LoRa is a patented technology that allows for inexpensive, long-range connectivity. Among its uses is supply chain management through devices like smart pallets. Giving each pallet of material a unique, trackable ID would facilitate smart and efficient supply chain management, especially where coupled with automated forklifts and other such warehouse carriers.

But it would also require massive IoT connectivity. Hosting all computation for such a massive number of devices on a distant cloud server would run the risk of network congestion. And resultant levels of latency could prove prohibitive for use cases that need real-time feedback, such as automated forklift navigation. This is where MEC will prove itself essential.

Intro to MEC

A Push to the Edge

Author: Mark Mohabeer

Mobile operators are preparing their networks for 5G and its eagerly anticipated promise of advanced real-time services. Edge computing is gaining universal consensus as a critical enabler for this promise by distributing service assurance nearer to the user, at the Edge, for greater responsiveness and agility.

So what is the Edge and why does it matter?
Simply put the Edge is the re-architecting of the centralized data center using technologies such as SDN/NFV and cloud to create a mesh network of data centers that extend the application compute, intelligent analytics, and storage to the edge of the network instead of just in a centralized data center. Therefore, edge computing facilitates data center-like support nearer to where the user and user devices reside. This distributed platform is known as the MEC -Multi Access Edge Computing a name coined by ETSI and referring to the use of RAN, LAN and WAN networks to locate the distributed network edge. Mobile Edge compute relates to edge system buildout in mobile telecoms network roadmaps culminating in the upcoming 5G.

It matters because having compute close to the edge allows the end user the ability to capture, analyze and derive insight on data almost in near-real-time. Edge computing enables a much more responsive network and more advanced applications than does a device-to-centralized data center architecture. MEC creates the power for existing and next generation networks to meet the complexity that our new IoT device driven world will demand. These new complexities include challenges such as: exponentially increasing data capacity to load balance the rising data loads from IoT; delivering sub-5ms latency between device and network connectivity required by new innovations like Augmented Reality and Holographics; and managing ZBs of IoT data to drive complex rule engines for service assurance and real-time insights. All this data will require transport over a secure, fast, low latency and reliable network such as 5G. MEC combined with 5G is necessary to fulfill the digital promise.

Where will the Edge reside?
Cost and benefit considerations drive this common question whose answer has multiple dependencies. It can be at the Internet/Private Network Edge in the private cloud data center itself, or at the Telco Core Edge co-located in the MNO data center, or at the Network Aggregation Edge (i.e. cell towers, external small cells, street cabinets, etc.), or at the Customer Edge inside the end user customer/enterprise premises (e.g. co-located with LAN or private RANs) and surprisingly it can also exist on the Device Edge within the UE itself. The end-user business case, latency requirements, reliability and connection density dependencies are all drivers that will inform where the edge will reside to satisfy specific service assurance requirements, customer expectations and budget.

Pushing the Competitive Edge
The 5G distributed cloud market is expected to be worth $7 to 13 billion by 2022. As cloud players and mobile operators jockey for market position in this important and lucrative value chain segment, an increasing number of edge technology suppliers are also entering and competing ferociously for this business. So, buckle up, start your engines because the push to the edge accompanies the race to 5G.