This year Mobile World Congress (MWC) was a big: YES, to that 5G now is here for real both on the device side with multiple handset vendors launching 5G phones as well as the system vendors, the Nokia CEO confirmed this on stage as well as the Cisco CEO stating “5G hype is rooted in reality”. We can also establish that this year’s show confirms that our licensed and unlicensed 5G now is here to change our lives. There were plenty of positive news confirming that our technology is ready at the right time, which I will tell you more about in this blog.
Blu Wireless/Sivers 60 GHz node (in red circle) with beam steering was demonstrated in our booth, where a basestation connected to 3 stations running a throughput of 3 Gbps
We had more than 35 meetings booked in our stand in Hall 5. This year we shared it with Blu Wireless and Fujikura and we all had a steady stream of visitors. Sometimes it was even hard to move around in the 72 Sqm big booth. We showed a total of 4 joint live demonstrations of Sivers IMA 5G technology with the common denominator that they all use Sivers IMA’s RF technology.
Before the show we had several press releases around 5G with Blu and Fujikura, the most followed up on was the fantastic news that we had tested Live with Blu Wireless and could show more than 700 meters with 1 Gbps speeds, using very cost-effective patch antennas with a small form factor of 4×5 cm and with only 1,6 millimeter thickness. The RFIC and antenna is consuming only approximately 5 Watt DC power. With Blu Wireless work around transport and connected cars showing that they can connect mobile stations with gigabit speeds at +250 km/h and also offer long distances, this truly shows that our technology is ready for the mass-market.
Unlicensed 5G (60 GHz WiGig/802.11ad)
Not counting our own on PRs, there were 3 main announcements around at MWC that will have a positive effect on Sivers IMA’s future:
- Blu Wireless contract with FirstGroup in UK
- Cambridge Communication system (CCS) and Adtran partnership
- CCS launch of their first 60 GHz Customer home unit (CPE) that will be used with the Self organizing (SON) MetNet Node, having Sivers IMA RF inside
FirstGroup contract in UK
FirstGroup is a multi-national transport group, based in Aberdeen, Scotland. The company operates transport services in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange having £6.4 billion in revenue and around 100,000 employees. The plan is to connect First Rail trains with gigabit speeds by installing 60 GHz base station along the train tracks. This might just be the first possible customer and the transport sector can be a quite interesting area for this technology providing gigabit speeds. There are today 16.000 km of rail way track only in the UK and to fully cover the full area a small cell would be needed every 1 km. How much of the total tracks that will be covered is however too early to say, but it has a great potential to revolutionize the transport industry offering true gigabit connectivity around the world.
CCS and Adtran partnership
Adtran is a US based company with a turnover of about SEK 6 billion and their partnership with CCS is of course very exciting for us being a supplier to CCS. Via Adtran, CCS will get a great partner that can increase volumes and market reach especially into the US. From Adtran press release “ADTRAN is working with a number of Tier 1 carriers and regional service providers in the U.S. and EMEA to design, deploy and manage access and backhaul networks utilizing mmWave/mesh/SON technologies.”. Tier 1 carriers being the biggest mobile operators in the world increase the overall opportunity we see via CCS.
CCS launched a Customer home unit (CPE) at MWC
Being part of CCS 360-degree MetNet Node is of course already in itself very exciting (see below picture to the right). Now when CCS launch this home unit (CPE) for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), it is even more exciting (see picture to the left) since CPE:s has even larger market potential. With the Blu Wireless software supporting up to 120 CPE units per MetNet node, this is of course an opportunity to see increased sales volumes for CCS when this CPE is available in the market around Q2 this year.
Left: CCS CPE home unit
Right: CCS MetNet Node
Licensed 5G (28GHz 5G-NR)
We had two 5G NR demos in our booth. One showing our new 5G chip and antenna we use for internal test and validation. In this demo we were showing a 1.2 gigabit link over a 400 MHz channel at 28 GHz using one RFIC. Fujikura also demonstrated their 5G-NR LCP low loss patch antenna using 2 Sivers IMA RFIC tiled together on each antenna. This RF solution can be used in for example a home unit CPEs or small cell (see picture below). This solution is state of the art an offers low loss and better output power (i.e. longer distance) than any other CPE solution currently in the market. All these products are still in prototype stage, but as we have discussed before, the market is to take off from 2020 and by then we aim to have products ready for volume production. The interest for these products was maybe even bigger than we seen for unlicensed 5G at this year’s MWC, which is of course connected to that the overall market at MWC is more telecom oriented (than datacom), thereby the focus on licensed spectrum.
Fujikura 5G antenna with two tiled Sivers IMA 5G chips
MWC overall all
MWC is a crazy big event with over 109.000 people attending this year and with a great number of launches covering all parts of the telecom industry. There were many new handsets launched by several companies. The biggest interest was around new 5G phones including foldable phones from Samsung and Huawei. The foldable phones were of course the center of attention with the biggest surprise being the price which will end up above SEK 20.000. This will of course not help volumes too much and it is going to be interesting to follow if they will become a success. 5G phones using 28 GHz mmWave was also launched, which is a big thing. There has been a big debate if a line of sight (LOS) technology, such as mmWave, will be possible to use in a phone or not. With the Qualcomm snapdragon 855 supporting it, it was still good to see that it is now available in handsets. Our take on it, is that from the start we should probably see these phones as very quick “Wireless modems” to be used as the MiFi pucks once was. It makes a lot of sense to connect your laptop via your phone as a 5G mmWave modem and get gigabit speeds with short range indoor using the 28 GHz spectrum. Another topic was of course the China/US trade war and what effect that will have on the roll out of 5G. We believe that operators that are not fully vested today in Huawei infrastructure will of course think 1 or 2 times extra before they invest in new network gear from China, at the same time EU operators that have a single source from Huawei, will have little choice but keep on building their networks as long as they are not banned. Hence we do not believe that EU will make a full ban in Europe, since that would be a disaster for some operators. Talking to non US component suppliers they see a positive development in China as long as there is no ban on overall US components to China and there is a possibility to increase market share in China. If an overall component ban would happen again to any of the Chinese system vendors, then of course it is not possible to operate, and it would not be good for component vendors outside US either. Other hot topics were AI and connected cars, but I think we will have to come back to that in a later post. However, it was nice to see Blu Wireless units on top of a McLaren (see below picture).
Blu Wireless Units with Sivers IMA’s RFIC technology on top of a McLaren
This was probably the best MWC for Sivers IMA so far, unlicensed and licensed 5G is here to stay and it is about to take off. Our partner and customer network are growing and our strategy to work with and via partners is showing great possibilities. We hope to see a ketchup effect from this the coming years and long-term growth based on having great products to offer to the 5G market that will change how we are connected everywhere.