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   Technology Stocks5G Wireless and the Internet of Things (IoT)

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To: Eric L who wrote (21)3/10/2020 1:55:49 PM
From: Eric L
   of 47
5G Technology Leadership: Huawei and Others (Part 2 of 2) ...

... [continued from prior post "Huawei's '18-month lead' in 5G is telecom's most spurious claim."]

Country rankings make a mockery of the Huawei leadership claims, too. In a report published in March 2019 by respected consulting firm Arthur D. Little [see PDF LINK at the end of this post] put Australia, South Korea and the US among a small number of 5G leaders, describing most other countries as either followers or laggards. If Huawei is 18 months ahead of its competitors, could three countries that make zero or minimal use of its equipment ever be 5G leaders? "How is it that the two leading 5G markets in the world are the US and South Korea?" asks John Strand, the CEO of advisory group Strand Consult.

One of Huawei's major European customers also takes issue with the claims about its 18-month technology lead. Arnaud Vamparys heads up the 5G technical program for Orange, which currently operates networks through Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In selecting 5G suppliers, he wanted diversity without compromising the reputation for network quality Orange established in the 4G era. "We finished with five suppliers able to roll out in Europe, namely Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE," Vamparys tells Light Reading. "I don't see this 18 months. Of course, you have positive and negative things in our benchmarks, but it is not so black and white."

Research muscle

Awestruck and Huawei-fearing observers have regularly drawn attention to the imbalance in research and development (R&D) spending between the Chinese vendor and its competitors. Last year alone, Huawei pumped a massive $18 billion into R&D, according to Ryan Ding, the CEO of its carrier business. Nokia's budget was just $4.8 billion, while Ericsson managed only $4 billion. Yet this comparison of headline amounts overlooks the huge differences between the three companies. "Ericsson is pure mobile and Nokia is mainly mobile plus some other things," says Strand. "Huawei's R&D budget covers chipsets, fixed line, mobile, cable TV solutions, AI solutions, data centers, mobile phones, laptops and tablets."

That budget even extends into activities outside its main addressable market, he says. Besides making telecom equipment, Huawei has also been a significant player in the solar energy business, according to Strand. Indeed, in June last year, it was reported by the UK's Financial Times to have shut down a US solar business that sold inverters, a type of electrical converter. The global significance of this solar business is unclear because Huawei's most recently published annual report, for 2018, makes only one cursory reference to the products it develops. "There is no transparency in the way they do things," says Strand.

Nor do the headline figures prove that Huawei allocates funds and spends them more efficiently than its rivals. The firm is understood to have a more scattergun approach than other vendors, a greater willingness (and ability) to support initiatives that might ultimately fail. While this risk-taking might boost the likelihood of breakthroughs, companies with far smaller R&D budgets have remained competitive in the 5G era.

The standout example is perhaps ZTE, another Chinese vendor whose entire R&D spending was less than $1.6 billion in 2018. Despite the gap with its rivals, ZTE increased its share of the overall market for telecom equipment by two percentage points last year, to about 10%, according to market research firm Dell'Oro. In 5G, Orange's Vamparys holds it in high regard. "It has very good technology and quality, even in standalone mode," he says. "It is one of our main vendors."

If Huawei does hold a technology advantage, it probably relates to the breadth of its product portfolio. No other vendor can provide the full spectrum of high-quality network equipment along with consumer gadgets, data center components and even some cable TV products. This makes Huawei a competitive threat in nearly all segments of the market, and a real danger when customers want to buy almost everything from the same vendor. But within specific areas, each of the leading suppliers could boast strengths, according to Stefan Pongratz, an analyst at Dell'Oro. Another analyst for a different organization is in broad agreement. Talk of an 18-month lead is "mainly rubbish," he says.

None of this would justify banning the Chinese vendor. Arguments about the security of Chinese equipment and illegal activities by Chinese firms are separate matters for consideration. Unfortunately, the spurious claims regarding Huawei's technology lead are being used to influence that debate one way or the other. Service providers and policymakers are right to worry about competition and supplier diversity, and Huawei must these days be acknowledged as a formidable technology player – just not one that has a monopoly on 5G expertise. <<

# # #

Arthur D. Little's 16 page repoort referred to in the opening paragraph above is available in PDF format. That PDF is linked below:

The Race to 5G

Arthur D. Little
March 2019

- Eric L. -

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From: Eric L3/12/2020 11:19:22 AM
   of 47
"Chips" for 5G Infrastructure ...

Intel, Marvell, Arm, Qualcomm, AMD and others

[and a Hedy Lamarr reference]

>> Major Chip Vendors Driving Revolutionary Changes In 5G Infrastructure

Bob O'Donnell
TECHnalysis Research
March 10, 2020

Though it’s absolutely essential to the operation of any wireless network, the truth is that the network infrastructure—everything from cell towers to all the bits of networking and computing equipment that works behind the scenes—is arguably the least understood element of technology that we all use on a regular basis.

Part of the reason for this is that, until very recently, most of the work to create the equipment—including the designing of the chips that run inside them—has been done by only a few vendors. Companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and a few others are the biggest players here, and frankly, most of them (the notable exception being Huawei as of late) aren’t as closely followed as most other tech companies. Additionally, as with many aspects of the telecom business, the details of network infrastructure equipment and how it works can be extraordinarily complicated, making it difficult, even for those who want to understand more, to make sense of network infrastructure and its effects on all of our devices.

With the roll-out of 5G, however, we’re starting to see some dramatic changes, not only in the technologies being used to power network infrastructure, but also in the companies that are starting to do some of the work. As with a number of 5G-related topics, some of this is directly because of the additional technical requirements that 5G demands, but another significant aspect is that the widespread move to software-defined networking (which is helping drive many of these changes) just happened to coincide with the development and deployment of 5G.

Over the past two weeks, virtually all of the major semiconductor companies made announcements of either new products, new partnerships, or new technologies focused on enabling more 5G infrastructure. (Obviously, much of it was originally intended for Mobile World Congress, which was cancelled, hence the similar timing).

Intel, Marvell, Arm, Qualcomm, AMD and others all had news related to 5G infrastructure. In addition, we’ve started to see Samsung play a bigger role as a network infrastructure provider for 5G deployments, in part because of its more aggressive use of new approaches to building the equipment that these other tech companies are enabling.

Intel kicked things off with the debut of a range of chips designed for various parts of the 5G infrastructure chain. Its new Atom P5900 is a low-power x86-based CPU that’s optimized for wireless base stations, thanks in part to the addition of dedicated network acceleration circuits to the traditional core components. The company also announced the debut of a new type of chip design called a structured ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit)—the first iteration is codenamed Diamond Mesa—that’s also specifically intended for network infrastructure. Much of the traditional infrastructure equipment has used FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), in order to process network-critical data. FPGAs are a flexible type of chip that can be programmed (and even reprogrammed) to accelerate specific functions. The Diamond Mesa part provides some of that same level of flexibility, but without the power consumption and pricing concerns that some FPGAs demand.

Marvell, for its part, launched several significant additions to its 5G infrastructure-focused product line, notably the Octeon Fusion and Octeon Tx2 processors, both of which are based around Arm core architectures. The Octeon Fusion combines multiple Arm V8 cores with several programmable DSP (digital signal processing) cores and hardware-accelerated baseband processors all designed to handle the increase in network data flow and processing that 5G networks will require. The Octeon Tx2 is designed to work further up the networking stack, with a focus on higher-level transport and control plane functions. Together, these two chips allow network infrastructure providers to build equipment optimized for the increasingly complex radio signal processing that 5G networks demand, with a particular focus on meeting the increased latency and bandwidth requirements. Notably, Marvell also announced that they were working with Samsung’s network division on enabling a new range of RAN (Radio Access Network)-focused products, powered by the Octeon Fusion and TX2.

At Qualcomm's post-MWC press event, the company discussed its progress with the Snapdragon 865 processor in a range of forthcoming 5G phones and also unveiled a 3rd generation X60 5G modem coming in 2021. On the infrastructure side, however, the company caught many off guard with a lengthy discussion on its growing presence in 5G infrastructure, thanks in part to a partnership with Japan-based Rakuten. Though Rakuten participates in many businesses (some have called it, for example, the Amazon of Japan for its strong online retail business), the company’s discussion at the Qualcomm event was all about a radical new approach to building a completely virtualized 5G network. Specifically, Rakuten talked about leveraging Qualcomm’s FSM100xx line of infrastructure-focused chips, which are designed to enable mmWave-based 5G RAN infrastructure. Qualcomm first unveiled the FMS100 line back in 2018, but only now is starting to see more widespread usage of the platform, with Rakuten, Samsung Networks, and a few other companies talking about their ongoing efforts with the Qualcomm chips. The Rakuten example—which they plan to start deploying in Japan next month—is particularly intriguing because they claim it allows macro-based cell sites to be set up nearly as easily and as quickly as managed WiFi hotspots. That’s an enormous improvement versus traditional macro cell sites, and if the company does bring the technology to other carriers outside of Japan, as they said they were planning to do, that could represent a big shift in how 5G infrastructure gets deployed in certain environments.

Of course, given all these large shifts, it’s easy to presume that the traditional infrastructure players could be challenged, but a few other announcements highlight how even the existing players are taking new approaches to 5G infrastructure. At AMD’s financial analyst day, for example, among the many announcements that the company made was that it was working with Nokia to power its 5G core network with 2nd generation Epyc server processors. Interestingly, Marvell also announced a partnership with Nokia on 5G infrastructure-focused products, with a specific emphasis on combining some customized Marvell components along with Nokia’s ReefShark chipsets to enable 5G multi-RAT (Radio Access Technology). Shortly thereafter, Nokia also announced a partnership with Intel that uses its ReefShark chipsets in Nokia’s 5G Airscale radio access devices.

All told, it’s clear that there are a number of major developments happening in 5G infrastructure by large semiconductor vendors that haven’t traditionally been associated with this typically closed-box world. The software-based demands for applications such as network function virtualization (NFV), as well as the greatly increased throughput demands that 5G networks will eventually enable, are clearly forcing some significant changes for existing providers and potentially opening up opportunities for new providers.

To be clear, shifts in infrastructure typically don’t happen very quickly. However, there’s no doubt that the world of 5G network infrastructure is going to be something that receives a lot more attention from a lot more people in the months and years to come.

On a separate but related note, at the urging of my wife and as the father of a STEM daughter, in honor of International Women’s Day yesterday and Women’s History Month this month, I would like to use this as a reminder of the many woman who have made contributions to the tech industry. Related to network infrastructure, communications, and the progression to 5G, one such woman in history is Hedy Lamarr. The world remembers her as a Hollywood starlet from the 1940s, but she was also a passionate inventor. In fact, she worked to create a “Secret Communications System” for switching radio frequencies during World War ll to prevent enemies from decoding messages that turned out to be the basis for spread spectrum technology. Fast forward to today and Lamar’s spread spectrum invention has ended up as a building block for many of today’s wireless communications technologies, including WiFi, GPS and cellular networks.

The Author: Bob O'Donnell is the president, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, a technology market research and consulting firm that counts many of tech industry’s largest vendors among its clients. The firm's research and O’Donnell’s opinions are also regularly used by major media outlets, including Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN, Investor's Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and more. O'Donnell writes regular columns for USAToday and Forbes, as well as a weekly blog for that's also published on TechSpot, SeekingAlpha and LinkedIn. Prior to founding TECHnalysis Research, O'Donnell served as Program Vice President, Clients and Displays for industry research firm IDC. O'Donnell is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. <<

# # #

- Eric L. -

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To: Eric L who wrote (21)5/30/2020 12:02:51 PM
From: Eric L
   of 47
The 'D10' Club proposed by Britian is intended to limit Huawei reliance ...

Britain wants US to form a 10-nation 5G alliance to cut reliance on China’s Huawei

Agence France-Presse
29 May, 2020

• Proposed ‘D10’ club of democratic partners would include Australia, South Korea and India

• Issue is expected to feature at a G7 summit that Donald Trump will host next month

Britain said Friday it was pushing the United States to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on China’s controversial technology giant Huawei.

The issue is expected to feature at a G7 summit that US President Donald Trump will host next month against the backdrop of a fierce confrontation with China that has been exacerbated by a global blame game over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Britain has allowed Huawei, the global leader in 5G technology, to build up to 35 per cent of the infrastructure necessary to roll out its new speedy data network. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reported by The Telegraph newspaper last week to have instructed officials to draw up plans to cut Huawei out of the network by 2023 as relations with China sour.

The Times newspaper said Britain is proposing a “D10” club of democratic partners that would include the G7 nations, Australia South Korea and India. It said one of the options involved channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the 10 member states.

Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson are Europe’s only current alternative options for supplying 5G equipment such as antennas and relay masts.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that Britain is reaching out to partners in search for an alternative to Huawei.

“We (are) seeking new entrants into the market in order to diversify and that is something we’ve been speaking with our allies about, including the United States,” the Downing Street spokesman said.

Johnson’s decision this year to include Huawei angered Washington because it believes that the private Chinese company can either spy on Western communications or simply shut down the British network under orders from Beijing. But his reported plan to eventually cut Huawei out of the network could significantly complicate London’s relations with China just as Johnson seeks new trade partners following Britain’s exit from the EU. Johnson challenged his US critics in January to come up with an alternative to Huawei if they did not want Britain to use the Chinese firm. <<

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- Eric L. -

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To: Eric L who wrote (24)5/30/2020 1:10:43 PM
From: Eric L
   of 47
The 'D10' Club [expanded] ...

This repeats but expands somewhat on the AFP article in the prior post which unfortunately gets us into the Geopolitical Realm pitting countries or geographic regions against country or countries.

>> Britain pushing US to form 5G club of nations to cut out Huawei

Dmitry Zaks

May 29, 2020

Britain said Friday it was pushing the United States to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on China's controversial telecoms giant Huawei.

The issue is expected to feature at a G7 summit that US President Donald Trump will host next month against the backdrop of a fierce confrontation with China that has been exacerbated by a global blame game over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Britain has allowed the Chinese global leader in 5G technology to build up to 35 percent of the infrastructure necessary to roll out its new speedy data network.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reported by The Daily Telegraph last week to have instructed officials to draw up plans to cut Huawei out of the network by 2023 as relations with China sour.

The Times newspaper said Britain is proposing a "D10" club of democratic partners that groups the G7 nations with Australia and the Asian technology leaders South Korea and India.

It said one of the options involves channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the 10 member states.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that Britain is reaching out to partners in search for an alternative to Huawei.

"We (are) seeking new entrants into the market in order to diversify and that is something we've been speaking with our allies about, including the United States," the Downing Street spokesman said.

Few options

Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson are Europe's only current alternative options for supplying 5G equipment such as antennas and relay masts.

"We need new entrants to the market," a UK government source told The Times.

"That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time."

Johnson's decision to include Huawei angered Washington because it believes that the private Chinese company can either spy on Western communications or simply shut down the UK network under orders from Beijing.

The United States has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Huawei that have put the future of Britain's 5G rollout in peril.

Downing Street said the UK National Cyber Security Centre was studying the implication of the US sanctions on Huawei's immediate ability to produce the equipment Britain needs.

Pressure on Johnson to cut ties with Huawei is being compounded by the new security law Beijing plans to impose on the once British-held Hong Kong.

London has infuriated Beijing by saying it would offer almost three million Hong Kong residents UK visa rights and a pathway to future citizenship if the new law goes into effect.

But Johnson's reported plan to completely remove Huawei from the UK network could prove costly at a time when his government is seeking new trade partners following Britain's exit from the EU.

It is also proving difficult to implement because private UK firms are pushing for the technology in order to stay competitive in a tight market.

Britain's BT said this month it was abandoning plans to strip out Huawei from the most sensitive part of its networks by the end of the year because the government's own deadline was set at 2023. <<

Yet another take of the same story:

>> UK plans new 5G club of 10 democracies, including India: Report

The British government has approached the US with the prospect of creating a 5G club of 10 democracies, including India, amid growing security concerns related to Chinese telecom giant Huawei, according to a UK media report.

A so-called “D10" club of democratic partners, including G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada – plus Australia, South Korea and India will aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China, ‘The Times’ reported.

The move to speed up such a club comes as the UK launched an inquiry into Huawei’s involvement in the country’s mobile network upgrade in the wake of US sanctions against the company.

“We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time," the newspaper quoted a UK government source as saying.

Nokia and Ericsson are the only European suppliers of 5G infrastructure and experts say that they cannot provide 5G kit as quickly or as cheaply as Huawei.

Britain has labelled Huawei a “high-risk" vendor and therefore its involvement in the UK’s 5G upgrade comes with a 35% market cap, including a ban on its participation in the sensitive “core" of the network.

The review into Huawei, launched last week by the UK"s National Cyber Security Centre, followed the announcement of US sanctions to block the sale of American chips to the company.

UK security officials fear that the ban will prompt China to use cheaper, less secure technologies, instead of verified US versions.

Officials are, meanwhile, examining proposals to curb the installation of Huawei kit in the 5G network from 2023.

According to the newspaper, increasing the partnership of like-minded democracies forms part of the ongoing reappraisal of the Chinese firm’s involvement in the UK.

The US in recent months has increased its action against Huawei, China's first global tech brand and a maker of network equipment and smartphones, preventing it from doing business in the US, as it believes the company known for its technological advancement in 5G is being used by the Chinese leadership to serve their interest.

The Trump administration says Huawei is a security risk, which the company denies, and is trying to persuade European and other allies to shun its technology for the next-generation telecom networks.

China has accused the US of raising phony security concerns to hurt a rising competitor to American tech companies.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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- Eric L. -

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To: Eric L who wrote (21)5/31/2020 6:05:53 PM
From: Eric L
   of 47
Who owns Huawei?

This NYT article is 13 months old but I'm not sure that what they say about Huawei ownership has has been clarified to much if any extent in the interim.

Shenzhen, China — For one of the world’s largest technology companies, it should be a simple question:

Who owns Huawei?

As the Chinese smartphone and telecommunications equipment giant battles the United States government over whether it should be allowed to build the world’s mobile networks, the company has been going to great lengths to present itself as open, transparent and trustworthy.

It has not always worked out. One reason is that certain simple questions about Huawei do not have simple answers.

The chief secretary of Huawei’s board of directors, Jiang Xisheng, spoke for more than 90 minutes to a small group of reporters on Thursday. The goal was to help explain the company’s ownership after two American researchers wrote a report accusing Huawei of being misleading about the issue.

Mr. Jiang’s explanation boiled down to this: On paper, he said, Huawei is owned by a labor union that solicits donations from employees when their colleagues have health problems and the like. The union also supervises the company basketball club, Mr. Jiang said.

Naturally, it is a little more complicated than that.

Huawei’s ownership is a murky matter because the company has never, in more than three decades of existence, sold shares to the public. The firm says that it is entirely owned by its employees, and that no outside organizations, including any affiliated with the Chinese government, own shares.

But these assurances have never quite dispelled American officials’ suspicions that Beijing and the Communist Party are somehow pulling the strings. Top American officials have also been alarmed by new Chinese laws that require companies to assist in national intelligence work.

Huawei showed reporters on Thursday what it described as evidence of its independence: a big blue book, kept behind glass and under lock and key in a drab white room at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city.

Within its 10 volumes are said to be the names of all the Huawei employees who hold “restricted phantom shares” in the company — proof, the company says, that no piece of Huawei is owned by the Chinese government.

This, too, is not as simple as it seems.

Over the past year, Washington’s long-simmering distrust toward Huawei, the world’s leading maker of the equipment that powers cellphone networks, has morphed into an all-out assault on the company.

Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, are facing criminal charges in the United States related to theft of trade secrets and violations of sanctions on Iran. American officials have urged other governments to bar mobile carriers from using Huawei’s gear in their next-generation wireless networks, arguing that oceans of sensitive data could be exposed to Chinese intelligence-gathering.

To counter claims that it is opaque and secretive, Huawei recently reported quarterly financial results for the first time. And it has invited reporters from around the world to interview company leaders, including Ren Zhengfei, its powerful founder and chief executive.

But to Huawei’s critics, such gestures hardly put to rest the question of whether the company is susceptible to Chinese state influence.

China’s government exerts control over the country’s private businesses in many ways, some of them unofficial and never disclosed. Huawei executives have said repeatedly that they do not act on Beijing’s behalf. But absent the kind of constant, independent scrutiny that a publicly listed company would face, outsiders can only decide whether to take Huawei’s word for it.

“It’s hard to prove if you’re not at least a partially publicly traded company,” said Xiaomeng Lu of Access Partnership, a policy consulting firm.

By exposing themselves to the vetting needed to list their shares on American stock exchanges, Ms. Lu said, other Chinese technology firms have put the wider world at greater ease about the way they are run.

“That’s a kind of seal of approval,” she said.

Huawei, however, believes it has flourished because it does not face the short-term financial pressures that publicly held companies do. So the company has devised an ownership structure that allows it to use shares to motivate employees while still remaining closely held.

Here is where it gets complicated.

According to Chinese corporate records, Huawei Technologies is wholly owned by a holding company called Huawei Investment & Holding.

That holding company has two shareholders, corporate records say. Mr. Ren, Huawei’s chief executive, owns a little more than 1 percent of shares. The rest are owned by an entity called the Union of Huawei Investment & Holding.

This is Huawei’s labor union, Mr. Jiang said on Thursday, and it owns most of the company purely out of legal convenience. Under Chinese law, only certain kinds of entities can be the registered owners of a closely held company, and a labor union is one of them.

The union has no influence over the company’s business operations, Mr. Jiang said. It does, however, supervise after-work activities for employees.

That basketball club, for instance. The badminton and table tennis clubs, too, Mr. Jiang said.

Huawei’s union is registered with the Shenzhen city government’s union and pays dues. But the municipal union has no influence over the Huawei union’s operations or the company, Mr. Jiang said.

What, then, does Huawei actually mean when it says that it is employee owned? Mr. Jiang described the company’s program for allowing workers to own a kind of virtual Huawei stock.

Shares of this virtual stock let employees share in the company’s financial success (and its losses). And they entitle their holders to elect members to Huawei’s Representatives’ Commission, which in turn elects members of the board of directors.

Technically, all of this is separate from the union, which is the company’s registered legal owner. Huawei’s virtual shares also differ from conventional shares in key ways.

They cannot, for instance, be transferred to others or owned by nonemployees. And if an employee leaves Huawei, the company buys the shares back, unless the employee has reached a certain level of seniority.

The researchers who wrote the report questioning Huawei’s ownership — Christopher Balding, a professor at Fulbright University Vietnam, and Donald C. Clarke, a Chinese law expert at George Washington University — say Huawei’s virtual stock program “has nothing to do with financing or control” and is “purely a profit-sharing incentive scheme.”

Mr. Jiang rejected this argument, saying that holders of Huawei virtual shares bear the risk that their shares will decline in value, and that they are entitled to a portion of the company’s assets if it goes bankrupt.

Still, he acknowledged on Thursday that it was unclear whether Huawei’s efforts to explain all this would assuage any concerns in Washington.

“With some people,” he said, “no matter what you say to them, they will only say what they want to say. They won’t listen to you.” <<

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- Eric L -

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From: Eric L6/1/2020 2:44:36 PM
1 Recommendation   of 47
Huawei: Taking the Lead in 5G (Washington Post) ...

Yet another 13 month old article but a good one describing the exit of US Network suppliers from the scene ...

Four companies, Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei and ZTE, account for two-thirds of the global market for telecom equipment, according to analyst estimates. Some U.S. technology giants such as Cisco sell switches and routers that reside in the innermost parts of a carrier’s network. But despite its size, Cisco doesn’t compete in the market for “radio access,” or the wireless infrastructure that allows cell sites to connect with smartphones and other mobile devices.

In this century 3 major North American Network suppliers -- Lucent, Motorola and Nortel departed the world stage.

Brian Fung
The Washington Post
April 10, 2019

As U.S. officials have pressured allies not to use networking gear from Chinese technology giant Huawei over spying concerns, President Trump has urged American companies to “step up” and compete to provide the next generation of high-speed, low-lag wireless service known as 5G.

There’s just one problem: Barely any U.S. companies manufacture the technology’s most critical components.

The absence of a major U.S. alternative to foreign suppliers of 5G networking equipment underscores the growing dominance of Huawei, which has evolved into the world’s biggest supplier of telecom equipment, sparking fears within the Trump administration that a 5G network powered by Huawei’s wireless parts could endanger national security. And it throws into sharp relief the years-long retreat by U.S. firms from that market.

Carriers such as Sprint and Verizon have moved swiftly to launch 5G services for consumers. But the wireless networking gear the industry relies on still comes from foreign suppliers: four companies, Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei and ZTE, account for two-thirds of the global market for telecom equipment, according to analyst estimates.

Some U.S. technology giants such as Cisco sell switches and routers that reside in the innermost parts of a carrier’s network. But despite its size, Cisco doesn’t compete in the market for “radio access,” or the wireless infrastructure that allows cell sites to connect with smartphones and other mobile devices.

“There is no U.S.-based wireless access equipment provider today that builds those solutions,” said Sandra Rivera, a senior vice president at Intel who helps guide the chipmaker’s 5G strategy.

It’s this part of the Internet ecosystem that is increasingly important as more devices and appliances gain wireless connectivity and smart capabilities. 5G is expected to shape technological innovation for years to come, providing mobile data connections for virtual-reality headsets, driverless cars and more. Proponents say 5G eventually will support download speeds of 1,000 megabits per second, roughly 100 times faster than today’s 4G standard.

The rising global demand for 5G equipment highlights how the United States, a technology leader in other respects, is largely absent from the wireless networking industry. It reflects the decline of a once vibrant ecosystem of American companies that formerly went toe-to-toe with the likes of Nokia and Ericsson. And it puts a focus on Chinese firms such as Huawei, whose rise to prominence has come at the expense of Western networking titans and sparked a global campaign by U.S. officials eager to persuade allies not to allow Chinese equipment into their networks.

At the dawn of the wireless age 30 years ago, U.S. companies jostled for primacy in wireless networking. Companies such as Motorola and Lucent — an offshoot of the old AT&T monopoly — were sources of innovation, exploring new ways of delivering voice and data wirelessly. It was Lucent, for example, that helped introduce Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA, a mobile technology that promised to improve the capacity of wireless carriers.

But their fortunes declined around the turn of the century as they failed to keep pace with a changing market. No U.S. company stepped in to fill the gap as those companies faded — partly because of the growing strength of foreign alternatives and partly because of the immense scale required to survive in that line of business, according to industry experts.

“Lucent basically collapsed because they didn’t have a big enough wireless arm to keep them afloat when the Internet backbone [business] collapsed” in the dot-com bust, said Roger Entner, a telecom analyst at Recon Analytics. “Motorola, over time, simply became less competitive because the other vendors had more economies of scale.”

Motorola and Lucent’s wireless infrastructure businesses were soon gobbled up by Finland’s Nokia and France’s Alcatel, respectively. One reason the European companies proved so successful, Entner said, was because the European industry agreed from the start to develop a common standard for wireless communication, known as GSM, that all European telecoms would share. By contrast, the industry in North America took a looser approach, with some carriers backing network technologies that weren’t mutually compatible.

Take CDMA. First developed for mobile use in the 1990s, the standard was technologically superior, allowing carriers such as Verizon to pump more traffic through their cell sites over the same amount of time compared with alternative standards. But the technology created headaches for consumers who found they couldn’t keep their phones when they switched from Verizon to a network like T-Mobile’s, which ran on GSM.

While the American approach allowed for more technological experimentation and innovation, a fragmented market based on competing standards made it more challenging for U.S. wireless equipment sellers to amass a large customer base.

Today, Nokia and Ericsson are the top providers of telecommunications networking gear in North America and are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the world. The two companies each recorded revenue of about $25 billion last year.

But both have been surpassed by Huawei, which in the span of three decades has become the world’s largest provider of telecom equipment.

“I do think the Western companies did underestimate how credible Huawei was,” said Paul de Sa, a telecom industry analyst and co-founder of the advisory firm Quadra Partners. “There were executives who basically laughed [at the idea] that Huawei or ZTE could compete.”

Founded in the late 1980s by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer for the Chinese military, Huawei began as a technology supplier for Chinese customers. But by the early 2000s, Huawei had begun selling globally, and now does a robust business not only in network equipment but also in consumer smartphones and enterprise services. Last month, the privately held company reported that it had finished 2018 with revenue of $107 billion, up 20 percent despite the U.S. campaign. Profits rose 25 percent, the company said, to $8.8 billion.

To give another perspective on Huawei’s enormous influence, the company’s chief rivals, Nokia and Ericsson, account for 17 percent and 13 percent of the global market for telecom equipment, respectively, according to figures compiled by the research firm Dell’Oro Group.

Despite an early reputation for cheap knockoff hardware, Huawei today is recognized for low prices, reliable equipment and engaging customer service, analysts say. As Huawei has invested in its own research and development, even Western telecom companies acknowledge that Huawei’s products are as good as — if not better than — competing equipment from Nokia or Ericsson.

“About 25 percent of our members have Huawei or ZTE” in their networks, Carri Bennet, an attorney for the Washington-based Rural Wireless Association, told lawmakers at a recent House Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Gordon Smith, the chief executive of Sagent, a network intelligence and analytics company formerly known as Clover Telecom, estimated that Huawei gear typically costs “tens of percents” less than the competition’s.

With the support of China’s state-owned development bank, Huawei also has been able to undercut competitors with attractive financing for its products. In February alone, Huawei announced partnerships with wireless carriers in eight countries, including Iceland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

It doesn’t hurt that Huawei serves a massive domestic market in China, which grants it tremendous advantages of scale that many tech companies, including American ones, are hungry to access themselves. China is so critical to Apple, for example, that the iPhone maker blamed the country’s economic slowdown for a downward revision in Apple’s recent quarterly sales estimates — the company’s first such warning in 15 years.

Huawei’s success, however, has been clouded by allegations of intellectual property theft.

The U.S. government accused two Huawei units this year of trying to copy a robotic arm used by T-Mobile to test smartphones. (Huawei has pleaded not guilty.) In the past, Huawei has also been accused of stealing technology from Cisco; the two firms became locked in a legal dispute in 2003 and settled months later, after Huawei conceded that Cisco-made code had ended up in a Huawei product. The code was later removed.

Then there is Nortel Networks’ discovery in 2004 that hackers — traced to IP addresses in Shanghai — had stolen nearly 1,500 sensitive files from the Canadian telecom giant’s computer systems. The company’s subsequent investigation failed to prove China’s direct involvement, much less Huawei’s. But after analyzing the stolen files — which bore cryptic names such as “Photonic Crystals and Large Scale Integration,” “Eco_Strategy.ppt” and “HDX R2 Standard Reconfigurations Test Plan - Draft 0.2? — and a months-long probe, Nortel’s security adviser at the time, Brian Shields, became convinced Huawei benefited indirectly from the breach. The file names, a list of which Shields provided to The Washington Post, have not been previously reported.

“Nobody would be interested in these kinds of documents other than a competitor,” Shields said. “In my opinion, looking at what the hackers went after, it is likely these documents made it to Huawei.”

That seemingly ancient history is newly relevant, as U.S. officials argue that incorporating Huawei gear into U.S. carriers’ 5G networks poses a significant spying risk.

At an industry conference in Barcelona in February, U.S. officials urged allies in bilateral meetings not to use Huawei equipment over concerns that it could enable eavesdropping by authoritarian regimes. U.S. partners largely acknowledge the risk but have asked for more concrete evidence to back up the case.

“The Europeans really keep pushing for this concept of, ‘Where’s the smoking gun?’ ” said a person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more freely about the closed-door meetings. “They say, ‘Hey, we don’t want security threats either ... but you can’t just come in here and tell us that there is a unity of interest between Beijing and Huawei and have that be the end of your presentation.’ ”

Some analysts say that in a previous era, America’s allies might have been more sympathetic to the Trump administration’s message. But Trump’s conduct, they say — berating NATO allies, canceling a visit to a World War I memorial because of rain, calling Europe a “foe” on trade — has not helped.

“In a world where the U.S. had more soft power,” Entner said, “I’m pretty sure the Europeans would be a lot more receptive.”

The author: Brian Fung covered business and technology for The Washington Post. He left The Post in 2019. <<

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- Eric L -

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From: Eric L6/1/2020 9:28:21 PM
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Overall 2G-5G Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructure equipment market in Q1 2020 (Dell’Oro) ...

Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung accounted for more than 95 percent of the market.

>> RAN Market Returned to Growth in 1Q 2020, According to Dell’Oro Group

COVID-19 Not Expected to Curtail RAN Momentum

Dell’Oro Group
Press Release
Redwood CitY, Calif.
May 15, 2020

According to a recently published report from the Dell’Oro Group, the trusted source for market information about the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT industries, preliminary estimates suggest that the overall 2G-5G radio access network (RAN) infrastructure equipment market returned to growth in 1Q 2020, increasing at single-digit rate year-over-year(YoY), propelling the overall RAN market to advance in six of the last seven quarters.

“Market conditions in the quarter were in many aspects positive, as healthy end-user fundamentals and positive 5G momentum outweighed downward risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “While we continue to expect the worldwide market to grow at a healthy pace, regional risk profiles have changed with increase downward risks given the slowdown in the overall economy and upside risks prompted by potentially faster-than-expected 5G acceleration in China and Korea,” continued Pongratz.

Additional highlights from the 1Q 2020 RAN report:

• 5G NR comprised 20 percent to 40 percent of the overall RAN market.

• Massive MIMO radio shipments increased four-fold YoY with total installed base eclipsing 60 M transceivers.

• Indoor small cell growth slowed in the quarter – outlook remains favorable for full year 2020.

• Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung accounted for more than 95 percent of the market.

• Huawei’s total RAN share improved, reflecting Huawei’s growing position in China.
Smaller RAN players continued to benefit from the ongoing shift toward Open RAN. <<

# # #

Interview: Ranking the mobile network market 9(October 29, 2019)

Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director, Dell’Oro Group, discusses how the mobile infrastructure market is performing in 2019 and expectations for 2020. He discusses vendor rankings and how the industry should best “gear up” for a future 5G world.

5G in the North American Market: Trials, Misdirection, and Incompatible Technology ( February 27, 2020)

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- Eric L. -

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From: Eric L6/7/2020 11:10:23 AM
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Introduction to 'Who Is 'Really' Leading In Mobile 5G' ...

... a 6 Part Series by Moor Insights & Strategy (MI&S) in Forbes. The complete series covers:

1. IP innovation and Standards
2. Chipsets
3, Handsets
4. Infrastructure equipment
5. Global Network Operators ('Carriers')
6, Regional Government Policies and Regulations

The 1st installment was published slightly over a year ago in mid-May 2019. The final installment was published 9 months ago in mid-October 2019. The 1st 3 articles were authored by Patrick Moorhead the Founder, President and Principal Analyst of MI&S and Anshel Sag, MI&S Analyst of Mobility & VR. The final 3 articles were authored by Will Townsend, MI&S Senior Analyst, Carriers and Enterprise Networking.

All 6 installments of the series will be posted and threaded back to this post. Only the first 3 paragraph of Part 1 are contained in this introductory post and 'Part 1: IP innovation and Standards' will continue and follow this introductory post. Taken as a whole, I think that this series serves as a good (if not great) reasonably up to date broad introduction to 3GPP's 5G NR (5G New Radio) for The ITU's IMT-2020 requirements as it exists in today's early stages of 5G NR deployment.

>> Who Is 'Really' Leading In Mobile 5G?

Patrick Moorhead
Anshel Sag
May 15, 2019

5G is a new technology that everyone, including U.S. President Donald Trump, is talking about. So, naturally, everyone wants to talk about 5G and how they are leading in the space. However, the reality is that mobile 5G is a broadly encompassing wireless standard that changes the way that we think about cellular communications and broadens the possibilities like never. As such, it really takes a broad and deep understanding of 5G to really understand who’s leading in mobile 5G.

This will be part of a series that analyst Anshel Sag and I will be writing about that goes through the series of different parts of mobile 5G and who we believe the leaders are in all those different areas. These areas of 5G mobile leadership include:

1. IP innovation and Standards
2. Chipsets
3, Handsets
4. Infrastructure equipment
5. GLOBAL Network Operators ('Carriers')
6, Government Policies and Regulations

We believe that too much coverage of 5G leadership oversimplifies what comprises the entire 5G standard and how many different companies have different leadership positions. I also want to point out that 5G is more than mobile 5G and will benefit and create opportunities for the cloud, datacenter, and edge. We split the entire 5G opportunity in research here, entitled " The Full Impact Of 5G On IT Industry Hardware Spending." <<

That full research paper referenced above was published in February 2018 can be downloaded in PDF format here:

Moor Insights & Strategy (MI&S) is a global technology analyst and advisory, research analysis, and consulting firm headquartered in Austin, Texas that was founded in 2011 by Patrick Moorhead. There is a profile of Patrick Moorhead below. Profiles of the other analysts on the MI&S team are available here:

Patrick Moorhead Bio: Patrick was ranked the #1 analyst out of 8,000 in the ARInsights Power 100 rankings and the #1 most cited analyst as ranked by Apollo Research. Patrick founded Moor Insights & Strategy based on in his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants.

Moorhead is also a contributor for both Forbes, CIO, and the Next Platform. He runs MI&S but is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the software-defined datacenter and the Internet of Things (IoT), and Patrick is a deep expert in client computing and semiconductors. He has nearly 30 years of experience including 15 years as an executive at high tech companies leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.

Before Patrick started the firm, he spent over 20 years as a high-tech strategy, product, and marketing executive who has addressed the personal computer, mobile, graphics, and server ecosystems. Unlike other analyst firms, Moorhead held executive positions leading strategy, marketing, and product groups. He is grounded in reality as he has led the planning and execution and had to live with the outcomes. Moorhead also has significant board experience. He served as an executive board member of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the American Electronics Association (AEA) and chaired the board of the St. David’s Medical Center for five years,

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- Eric L.

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To: Eric L who wrote (29)6/7/2020 11:56:42 AM
From: Eric L
   of 47
Mobile 5G Technology Leadership 2019 Part 1: Tech Innovations And Standards

>> Who Is 'Really' Leading In Mobile 5G, Part 1: Tech Innovations And Standards

Patrick Moorhead
Anshel Sag
May 15, 2019

For the first part of this series, the focus is on mobile 5G leadership in technology innovation and standards development.

For this, we must define what we consider a leadership position for mobile 5G and how we define that in terms of technology innovation and standards development. Many companies use different metrics to define success in this area, but ultimately the main metrics of success that we believe to be relevant to mobile 5G leadership are how many innovations get adopted into the 3GPP specification and ETSI’s IMT-2020 standard and whether these standards ultimately solve a problem that existed before its creation.

Number of contributions a flawed approach (quality, not quantity)

The industry works together to create these wireless standards and specifications which are made up of disclosed Standard Essential Patents (SEP) that are relevant to 5G for the ETSI standard. This process is continuing from the initial 3GPP Rel. 15 spec of 5G NR and is ongoing into the upcoming Rel. 16 version of the spec. Some firms are counting these SEPs and misguidedly using them as a metric for success in 5G. Not all these SEPs are necessarily created equally, with companies like Qualcomm’s SEPs having a higher quality and making up a bigger part of the core of the 5G spec than others. Patent counting or just filing patents for the sake of getting that number up has been a strategy employed by some vendors, like Huawei. The practice of patent counting has been employed before by Huawei Technologies in the Linux Foundation and appear to be repeating the same strategy to show perceived leadership with 3GPP. Patent and contribution counting is a flawed way to measure the degree of contribution and is covered here in a recent article in "IAM", recognized as a leading IP business media outlet.

Don't confuse "research" and "development"

Many in the 5G industry spend considerable amounts of money on R&D, but it is important to not confuse the difference between research and development and how few have real research. Everyone uses development to build products off the research that is done, but very few have deep research organizations that are breaking new ground and paving the way for the industry. This is a key metric for what kinds of companies are truly leading the industry in innovation and standards development. Companies that are doing lots of research are trying to solve problems that the rest of the industry is most likely to encounter, a good analogy is that these companies are the ice breaker ships for the entire fleet.

Huawei Technologies has become a major player here but we believe Qualcomm is the undisputed leader in this space as they have been leading in 3G, 4G and 5G and the company is continuing to invest heavily in R&D to ensure that leadership continues all the way through 5G and eventually to 6G.

5G release 15

Qualcomm was one of the 3GPP members has contributed greatly to where 5G is today, including pushing for the phase 1 and phase 2 releases of the 5G NR standard that are coming with Release 15 which include NSA (non-standalone) and SA (standalone) 5G networks. This is important because Qualcomm pushed for the two-phase approach which brought us 5G NR a year earlier (2019) rather than the originally planned 2020 (hence why the global standard is called IMT-2020). Qualcomm has also had other major contributions that have shaped the 5G standard’s direction and accelerated development for the whole industry, solving problems.

Release 15 of the 3GPP specification was very academic and crucial to establishing the foundations for 5G that will carry on through the technology for the next decade and beyond. 3GPP’s Release 16 is all about the fundamentals of applying the ideals of release 15 into the new industries that 5G is trying to address and bring into cellular connectivity.

Release 16 is about adding a small number of new capabilities to meet the requirements of those new industries while maintaining a common platform, the 5G network. We already saw this happen to a degree in Release 15 with C-V2X, which was originally introduced in Release 14 as part of 4G LTE incorporating C-V2X into 5G. This was also enabled thanks to Qualcomm’s creation of the device to device feature within 4G LTE which ultimately allowed for C-V2X and the creation of first responder networks like AT&T’s FirstNet.

5G release 16

One new industry that has a big area of focus for 3GPP Release 16 is Industrial IoT. In the area of industrial IoT, private 5G networks are a big lure for factory owners, but operators who have been part of the creation of the standard don’t want to have issues with these private networks, so Qualcomm is helping them bridge the gap between them to find solutions that satisfy both parties. Qualcomm has been a pioneer in enabling the use of unlicensed spectrum for 4G LTE (LAA), which is partly what has enabled some of the crazy LTE speeds you may have been noticing recently. With 5G, however, they’ve found a way to separate the licensed and unlicensed carriers so that a licensed anchor isn’t required to enable unlicensed access. These networks will most likely operate on the 60 GHz unlicensed band, much like LAA operates on 5 GHz today, but there’s also the possibility it may operate on other frequencies like 6 GHz and 95 GHz.

Other contributors to 3GPP’s 5G NR standard like Huawei have also been instrumental in the establishment of the standard. Huawei’s developments in polar codes found their way into the coding scheme for the control channels of 5G NR. However, this contribution to the standard while relevant does not amount to the same amount of work that Qualcomm has produced to create solutions for 5G.

3GPP organization is made up of many different companies, including operators, infrastructure vendors, and smartphone OEMs, many of these companies make small contributions together that make up the whole of the standard. Very few of these companies can solve some of these problems on their own and it is generally the experts like Huawei and Qualcomm that are able to solve major wireless problems. The amount of contributions themselves is not relevant, but rather their overall impact on the standard and whether they are adopted by the industry.

These innovations are not the end, there are many things being discussed as part of 3GPP Release 16 that include incorporating broadcast technologies into 5G to broaden the capabilities of operators and seamlessly deliver TV services to consumers with richer content and interactivity. Release 16 is still not complete yet, so it remains to be seen exactly what makes it into Release 16 or what will end up in 17. Nevertheless, Qualcomm is investing billions of dollars into 5G R&D every year, the company spent north of $5.6 billion last year and the company was fighting off hostile takeovers and assaults on their fundamental business model. When the company cut its budgets to appease investors, R&D was the only part of the company that didn’t see significant budgetary or staffing cuts. They take their role as an innovator and industry leader very seriously and understand what could happen to the entire wireless industry if they were to cut back on R&D. Because of these facts, there’s no doubt in my mind that Qualcomm is the leader in 5G innovation and standard settings.

The next part of this series will cover chipset leadership in 5G and see exactly what the status of the industry is there.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided paid research, analysis, advising, or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Advanced Micro Devices, Apstra, ARM Holdings, Bitfusion, Cisco Systems, Dell EMC, Diablo Technologies, Echelon, Ericcson, Frame, Gen Z Consortium, Glue Networks, GlobalFoundries, Google (Nest), HP Inc, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei Technologies, IBM, Jabil Circuit, Intel, Interdigital, Konica Minolta, Lenovo, Linux Foundation, MACOM (Applied Micro), MapBox, Mavenir, Mesosphere, Microsoft, National Instruments, NOKIA (Alcatel Lucent), Nortek, NVIDIA, ONUG, OpenStack Foundation, Peraso, Portworx, Protequus, Pure Storage, Qualcomm, Rackspace, Rambus, Red Hat, Samsung Technologies, Silver Peak, SONY, Springpath, Sprint, Stratus Technologies, TensTorrent, Tobii Technology, Synaptics, Verizon Communications, Vidyo, Wellsmith, Xilinx, Zebra, which may be cited in this article. <<

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- Eric L. -

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To: Eric L who wrote (29)6/7/2020 1:11:55 PM
From: Eric L
   of 47
Mobile 5G Technology Leadership 2019 Part 2: 5G Mobile Chipsets ...

>> Who Is 'Really' Leading In Mobile 5G, Part 2: 5G Mobile Chipsets

Patrick Moorhead
Anshel Sag
Jun 12, 2019

Two weeks ago, we kicked off our 5G leadership series here, starting with 5G technology innovations and standards. As we continue the series, we wanted to move on to 5G chipsets, which we define as chipsets that go into 5G consumer mobile devices versus, let’s say, IoT or IIoT devices. There is also another aspect of 5G that could be considered “chipsets,” which go into 5G infrastructure, but we will cover those in the infrastructure portion of this series, which will come later since it is many of the same players.

When it comes to 5G mobile chipsets, the market has become considerably more consolidated since the beginning of the 4G days with many players exiting the market or selling off their divisions due to high R&D costs and low returns. Lots of claims of leadership in 5G mobile chipsets have been made in the past, but we define leadership in the space as one that is first and foremost defined by commercial availability and chipset capabilities. There have been many players in the space that have announced chipsets months in advance to only deliver those chipsets later, commercially, than their competitors.

The players

As mentioned earlier, while there are few players in the mobile chipset space, it is still a highly dynamic and competitive market with some building modems, some building RF-Front-end components, and some players in the space doing both to better resolve the increasing complexity of cellular networks and tighten integration and improve time to market.

Much of the industry is split between those that can do mmWave and those that cannot. This will be a key variable to consider as mmWave is considerably more difficult to deliver, and very few players can do mmWave commercially. However, the benefits to capacity and bandwidth delivered by mmWave will eventually make it an inevitability everywhere that dense deployments are needed.

The biggest market for 5G modems right now is in Sub-6GHz for a few reasons: many countries have yet to free up mmWave spectrum; mmWave is harder to do in terms of RF and device design; and lastly, mmWave doesn’t cover as wide of an area due to the higher frequencies. In the modem space, we have players that include the following companies with announced 5G modems. I will note that the US has been the only region able to deploy both mmWave and Sub6, for now.

Huawei Technologies (HiSilicon)

Huawei’s 5G modem portfolio is branded “Balong.” The company refers to the Balong “platform,” which it says includes both modem and RF ICs. It is unclear as to Huawei’s complete RFFE solution. However, the modems themselves are also called “Balong,” and the company has announced that its Balong 5000 series modem will be shipping commercially this year in devices. Clear as mud at this point.

Huawei says the Balong 5000 is a 7nm, multi-mode 5G modem with support for both standalone and non-standalone networks. The first announced product to carry it was originally the Mate X foldable device which the company says is expected to be available sometime this summer. However, Huawei later announced a Mate 20X 5G which is a version of last year’s Mate 20 Pro paired with a Balong 5000 modem. The Balong 5000 is currently not yet commercially available in any devices, as the Huawei Mate 20X 5G has been pulled by all 5G operators that recently launched networks in Europe. We checked but couldn’t find a single operator still carrying Huawei’s 5G devices, that originally announced its intention to offer them. Huawei claims to also be a leader in 5G mmWave, but none of its devices shown thus far appear to be supporting mmWave, and the company has sent out mixed messages regarding mmWave support.

At MWC, the company glossed over mmWave in its presentation of 5G support for the Mate X, but did claim mmWave speeds; upon requesting further information, we were informed that mmWave is supported by the Balong 5000, but requires implementation by the devices group, which is likely to be in the 2H of 2019. Huawei’s commercial support for mmWave appears to be predicated on the Huawei device group rather than HiSilicon’s modem’s capabilities. However, the company has yet to show a working mmWave prototype of the MateX, or any device, and its website for the Mate X does not state support for any mmWave bands.

Since Huawei isn’t in the business of building their own RF-front-end components, they must source components from suppliers like Qorvo and Skyworks to build their RF-front-ends. This means that there might not be as tight of an integration of components compared to a mostly in-house solution.

MediaTek Inc.

MediaTek has traditionally been more of a lower-priced follower-challenger than a leader in cellular modems. However, it did announce around the same time as Intel and Huawei, that it would have a mobile-ready 5G modem.

MediaTek’s 5G modem, called the Helio M70, is the company’s first 5G modem, which it claims is a 5G multi-mode modem built on TSMC’s 7nm process and supports both standalone and non-standalone networks. Like Qualcomm and Huawei, it supports the 5G NR spec's EN-DC feature, which enables 4G and 5G dual connectivity (and aggregating across both networks) to attain even higher speeds. The catch with MediaTek’s 5G modem is that it isn’t claiming mmWave support, even though that might be a possibility down the road with future modems. Without an appropriate mmWave front-end partner, there isn’t much of a chance for MediaTek to support mmWave. The company believes that the lack of mmWave support is okay because its customers are using this modem to ship devices predominantly to Sub-6GHz operators. Its claimed Sub-6GHz speeds are about on par with what are expected to be the peak speeds of first-generation 5G modems. Similar to Huawei, MediaTek also doesn’t produce its own RF-front-end components so it is dependent on partners to integrate their modems into OEM designs.

The company also announced that it would be integrating the M70 modem into its upcoming 7nm SoC with ARM’s latest Cortex-A77 and Mali-G77 cores in early 2020. MediaTek says that the M70 has been available since December of last year, but it expects to ship in the second half of 2019, which should mean sometime in the next two quarters.

Intel Corp.

Intel is a curious case because the company had been fighting hard to compete with the rest of the industry, as a relatively new re-entrant to cellular in 4G after its acquisition of Infineon’s modem business. Intel has had a difficult history with mobility and smartphones in general and was having a hard time finding any customers for its 4G modems until it managed to capture Apple as a customer.

Intel originally announced that its first commercial 5G modem would be the XMM 8060, following its Gold Ridge prototype modem. However, in late 2018 Intel decided that the XMM 8060 would no longer ship as a commercial modem but would instead be used as a development platform. That decision was paired with the announcement of the XMM 8160, which is the company’s latest 5G modem, capable of both Sub-6GHz and mmWave connectivity and both SA and NSA networks. The XMM 8160 is supposed to be built using Intel’s 10nm process node and was supposed to ship in the second half of 2019, with availability in devices in 2020.

More recently, at MWC 2019, the company was still showing demos of its 5G modem capabilities using an emulation box designed to simulate the modem’s capabilities for testing and qualification until an ASIC was available. However, Intel did announce that it finally had its own mmWave RF IC for building a few of the analog support chips for the mmWave front-end, with a late 2020 or early 2021 target.

Following MWC, the company announced that it would no longer pursue a 5G smartphone modem business after its lead customer, Apple, signed an agreement with competitor Qualcomm to supply it with 5G modems and IP for six years. This has put all of Intel’s efforts in 5G modems into question as to its development in 5G PCs, and automotive was leveraged by most of the 5G smartphone work.

The company says it is currently evaluating the future of its entire 5G modem business, but this business is one of scale, and to remain in it, would need to justify volumes across the PC plus IoT industry. The only other thing that could be a possibility would be to integrate 5G into more future PCs and IoT, but that is still probably a year away or longer for Intel and seems hard to justify the future R&D. At this point, Intel’s 5G modem business is what I would consider being in limbo as the status is unknown, but it does technically have a product.


Qualcomm’s (integrated and discrete) modem business, is at the core of what the company is and has been, with everything else being complementary to its modem technology. Qualcomm has been making modems since CDMA, and it effectively created that standard, so it has a long history with cellular communications and has been pivotal in developing the 3GPP 5G standard. As such, it’s no surprise that Qualcomm not only announced the first 5G modem, its Snapdragon X50 chip but also already shipped the first 5G modems in commercial devices as well.

The X50 is not a multi-mode 5G chip, so it must be paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4G SoC platform and was primarily designed for early NSA and Sub-6GHz or mmWave 5G network deployments. As such, this modem didn’t have support for the same features that the second-generation Snapdragon X55 has, which includes SA and NSA network support for mmWave and Sub-6GHz frequencies.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 adds support for 4G/5G spectrum sharing addition to both types of spectrum. The Snapdragon X55 also adds FDD and SA 5G modes in addition to NSA and TDD which were supported in the X50. In the X55, Qualcomm also doubled the supported bandwidth in Sub-6GHz to 200 MHz from 100 MHz, which allows for much faster peak speeds. Qualcomm claims a peak speed of 7 Gbps down and 3 Gbps up with the X55. Peak speeds are a nice number to claim, as others have as well, but ultimately device performance is what matters the most, which is generally significantly lower. However, it is worth mentioning that it was recently reported that a device with Qualcomm’s first-generation X50 modem did achieve 2 Gbps download speeds in a real network environment and Qualcomm demonstrated 4.5+ Gbps at MWC. I wrote about that here. The Snapdragon X55 modem is already shipping to customers and is expected in devices by the end of the year.

Finally, on the modem side, Qualcomm also pre-announced that the company would be integrating a 5G modem into an SoC in early 2020, which is around the same timeframe as MediaTek claimed.

In addition to having launched two generations of 5G modems, Qualcomm has also launched two generations of 5G mmWave RF front-end modules. The second generation of these modules, the QTM525, is so small that it could be integrated into virtually any kind of device, which further helps to improve the adoption of mmWave 5G, especially when you think about signal blocking. It seems that most 5G mmWave solutions will require at least two of these mmWave 5G modules, so the smaller they are, the better chances are that the device designers will be able to integrate these easily into the designs of smartphones and tablets. The new QTM525 also adds support for more bands of mmWave including 24 GHz to 27 GHz, which is in addition to the already supported 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands.

Qualcomm also makes RF-front-end PA and diversity modules for 5G, which are designed to address 5G and 4G connectivity in the Sub-6GHz bands for both low-band and mid-band spectrum. Qualcomm is pairing its PA modules with its QET6100 envelope tracker to help reduce power consumption and improve upload performance in 5G. With the transition from 4G to 5G, most RF components and ET have to be upgraded or improved upon, which is why new diversity modules must be created for Sub-6GHz 5G as well.


Samsung has been in the modem business for quite some time, especially since it has been building its modems into Samsung phones for a long time. Like Huawei, Samsung’s modems are built in-house and are only used in its handsets. Also, like Huawei, Samsung has a considerable network infrastructure business, so it is also involved in 5G in more than one way.

We’ll get into its infrastructure business in another installment of this series, but in this one, we’ll focus on Samsung’s Exynos Modem 5100. Exynos is the brand for Samsung’s in-house SoCs, and its modems also bear the same branding, similarly to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon branding. Like Qualcomm’s, Samsung’s modem is both Sub-6GHz capable as well as mmWave, and supports LTE as well as 5G; it is paired with Samsung’s own RF IC for mmWave. Exynos 5100 refers to the entire platform, which includes the modem, RF, ET (envelop tracking) and power management IC. Samsung is building the Exynos Modem 5100 on a 10nm process node.

Samsung’s Exynos 5100 chipset can be found in certain geographies in its new Galaxy S10 5G. However, it is worth noting that not all versions of the Galaxy S10 5G will are shipping with Samsung’s Exynos chipset, as those in the US are shipping with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip and mmWave modules. This is because Samsung usually ships Qualcomm chips in certain markets and Samsung chips in others.


Unisoc is one of the newest players in the 5G space, but not in modems. Unisoc was formerly branded Spreadtrum and is the last of the major modem suppliers that offer a 5G modem. Unisoc announced its first 5G modem, the IVY510, along with its 5G technology platform named MAKALU back in late-February at MWC 2019. This modem does not target the leading 7nm process node as others have but instead is built using TSMC’s 12nm process, probably to save cost. The modem itself is multi-mode, supporting 2G to 5G, and Sub-6 GHz bandwidths up to 100 MHz. The IVY510 will support both standalone and non-standalone 5G networks, like other modems out there, but there’s no mention of mmWave in any of their publicly available materials. Because Unisoc is generally a supplier to Chinese white label OEMs, cost is extremely important; supporting mmWave adds cost to a device, and most likely isn’t yet a necessary feature in markets that matter to Unisoc’s OEMs.

Skyworks Solutions Inc

While Skyworks is not a modem supplier, it does supply many smartphone OEMs with RF-front-end solutions for cellular connectivity. The company supplies many of the components that sit between the modem and the network, including filters, amplifiers, and other RF front-end components.

Skyworks has named its line of 5G products Sky5, which includes power amplifiers, filters, and some modules that integrate them. Modules are becoming increasingly important due to the complexity resulting from a large number of 5G bands to be supported for both Sub-6GHz and mmWave. However, SkyWorks’ solutions are only for Sub-6GHz 5G solutions for the foreseeable future, until the company creates an RF IC or module for mmWave. All of the players that have mmWave solutions are delivering the front-end as complete modules, so I suspect that we might see something like that from Skyworks eventually.

Qorvo Inc

Qorvo is in a very similar situation as SkyWorks; in fact, the company is Skyworks’ biggest competitor, and the two companies collectively make up a significant chunk of the world’s RF-Front-end chipsets and components. Qorvo does not make modems either, nor does it manufacture handsets like some others mentioned, but it does help its OEM partners to integrate its components in a way that optimizes radio performance. Also, like SkyWorks, most of Qorvo’s mobile 5G front-end solutions are designed for Sub-6GHz 5G smartphones and other devices.

Qorvo does, however, have some mmWave radio solutions for infrastructure, but that doesn’t appear to influence its mobile division. From my experience, companies that are the furthest ahead in mmWave were already experimenting with it when they built 60 GHz Wi-Fi solutions and worked through some of the challenges with mmWave then.

So, who’s the leader in mobile 5G chipsets in the end?

This is an easy call. If you look at which company has the most products out in the market and the one with the most complete 5G mobile solutions, it’s pretty much no contest.

Qualcomm has two generations of 5G modems shipping to customers and already has devices with their first-generation in the market. We’ll cover 5G devices in more depth in the next phase of this leadership series, but Qualcomm is currently the first one to ship a 5G modem and is already shipping their second generation of modems to customers. It also has both Sub-6GHz and mmWave commercially, which shows leadership due to solving the very difficult problems of mmWave. It also has numerous 5G front-end products in addition to its 5G modems, which collectively gives it the right to claim undisputed 5G leadership in mobile chipsets. <<

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- Eric L. -

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