Are CBRS-powered Private Nets a Threat to Operators?

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• Operators and network infrastructure providers are vying to provide enterprises with “private” in-building networks that use cellular alternatives to WiFi (4G LTE and 5G), for advanced speed, reliability, security, and low latency.

• The supplier ecosystem for private nets is already crowded, and now Amazon and Google are among the applicants for 3.5 Ghz CBRS shared-spectrum management licenses. Enterprises can also apply for licenses themselves.

CBRS is a wireless technology that operates in three tiers: Tier 1 is used by the Navy, DoD, and by military satellites, while the other two tiers are for commercial use. Applicants can apply for: a Priority Access License (PAL), a non-renewable three-year license to use a 10MHz channel within the 3500-3650MHz portion of the band, in a limited geographical area. They can also apply for General Authorized Access (GAA), which is unlicensed, like WiFi, and provides dynamic allocation of available 100MHz channels so that access does not interfere with communications in the higher tiers. There are also applications for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to use the technology for testing purposes. Continue reading “Are CBRS-powered Private Nets a Threat to Operators?”

AT&T and Verizon Compete to Offer U.S. Public Safety Solutions

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• AT&T positions its public safety network, FirstNet, not only as a highly significant win and lucrative opportunity, but also as the highest-performing, fastest, most secure wireless communications network for first responders.

• While Verizon may do less marketing, it remains a very strong player in the public sector, with its own benefits for first responders and a somewhat different approach to the market than its rival.

When AT&T won the FirstNet deal in 2017, it was seen as a major coup for the carrier and a big blow to mobile operator rivals. FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce, authorized by Congress in 2012, with the mission to develop, build, and operate a nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. In 2017, after an open RFP process, a public-private partnership was forged between the federal government and AT&T. FirstNet agreed to provide 20 MHz of telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the network buildout; AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate, and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety. AT&T can also use FirstNet’s spectrum when it is not being used by public safety for other, commercial purposes but it must prioritize first responders over any commercial users. As of May 2019, AT&T had connected approximately 600,000 wireless devices to the network from 7,250 agencies, and offers FirstNet on Band 14 spectrum in 600 markets, roughly 50% of its eventual proposed coverage. The operator notes that 50% of these agencies are new to AT&T and were not just upgrades from existing customers. AT&T doesn’t just provide wireless connectivity to first responders (for both phones/tablets/fleets and IoT devices), but offers applications, specialized devices, enhanced security solutions, and satellite options. Flying Cells on Wings (COWS) were recently introduced, comprised of two tethered drones and a trailer equipped with a satellite dish and fiber connections, which are well suited to provide connectivity in hard to reach locations for emergencies such as wildfires and earthquakes. Continue reading “AT&T and Verizon Compete to Offer U.S. Public Safety Solutions”

Key Takeaways from PTC LiveWorx

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• At LiveWorx 2019 PTC used the term Digital Thread to describe how its CAD, product lifecycle management, and IoT/AI/AR products are interconnected, providing a comprehensive end-to-end solution for manufacturers bringing a product to market and remaining connected to the buyer.

• PTC highlighted its AR functionality at the show, a unique capability in the markets where it plays. AR may be on the rise, but in need of a marketing boost; many PTC and partner demos showcased AR use cases.

PTC LiveWorx is always full of interesting presentations, exhibits and demonstrations, not only about PTC products but also about products and services from its key partners and the broader IoT ecosystem, from integrators to operators to technology start-ups. This year was different because rather than treat IoT as a silo, with a focus almost exclusively on ThingWorx and the IoT market at the show, its new positioning is to portray its entire product line from CAD (Creo) to product lifecycle management (Windchill) to ThingWorx IoT, analytics, and AR as connected by a “digital thread” that also aligns with the digital processes that a manufacturer goes through as it designs, manages and connects its products. This way of looking more holistically at its entire product line makes sense as PTC primarily sells IoT capabilities to its own installed base of over 35,000 manufacturers. It also enriched the show with more diverse demos and exhibits. PTC made about ten public announcements at the show, ranging from expanding its alliance with Microsoft to include WIndchill on Azure; winning partner of the year awards from Microsoft and HPE; touting and expanding its alliance with Rockwell Automation for digital transformation; and the launch of new ThingWorx tools that simplify the composition, configuration and deployment of IoT solutions. Continue reading “Key Takeaways from PTC LiveWorx”

AT&T’s Smartphone Launch Signals a Different Approach to Kicking Off 5G

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • As operators start to roll out 5G and launch new handsets that can eventually take advantage of the technology’s speed and latency advantages, most have focused on the consumer market.
  • AT&T used a different approach this week in offering its new device solely to business customers and developers; it hopes these innovators and early adopters can help it find novel use cases which can aid in monetizing its network.

AT&T announced last week that, as of June 17, its new Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available to businesses that are on its Business Unlimited Preferred Plan for $999. This is the same price as its current Galaxy S10+ model, which has half the internal memory. The new model also has a bigger screen, better battery, and better camera than its predecessors. In addition, the operator is making the device available to roughly 100,000 developers next week through its Developer Program, at no charge through the end of the year. It is also sponsoring a 5G hackathon later this year at which developers have a chance to win $100,000. Continue reading “AT&T’s Smartphone Launch Signals a Different Approach to Kicking Off 5G”

Is This the Year of Augmented Reality?

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• At PTC LiveWorks 2019, augmented reality (AR) in the business segment (especially the manufacturing vertical) was a big theme, supported by customers on panels, and featured with compelling demos, in partner exhibits.

• While the outlook is optimistic, there are some limitations to uptake, including price of devices, corporate cultures that appreciate old-fashioned in-person training, and lack of manufacturers that are ready for digital transformation.

At PTC’s annual LiveWorks show, held from June 10th through 13th in Boston, the use of AR by businesses was a major theme. The technology is positioned by PTC as a way to bridge the physical and digital worlds. AR can digitally replicate an object such as a machine used in a manufacturing environment, or a complicated subsystem used in a complex field environment such as an oil rig. It essentially makes either a 3D model that can be viewed with a HoloLens or other smart glasses technology (easy to do with PTC’s CAD system, CREO) or a digital twin – essentially 3D in two dimensions – for viewing on a phone or tablet, which accurately represents all components of the machine, with all of its parts easy to discern. The model can have annotations added, including step-by-step training instructions, or ways to identify a part through colors or other effects. The AR model can provide simulations for operations such as seeing both the inside and outside of a machine or any component, or simulating operations such as refilling a fuel tank, or opening and closing a valve, etc. In 2015 PTC acquired Vuforia, which was a leading provider of AR software, picking up solutions to create content with 3D overlays, author and publish content quickly as needed, allow developers to create branded solutions, and mark-up views to highlight details or guide multi-step solutions. Continue reading “Is This the Year of Augmented Reality?”

Apple Still Courting the Enterprise with New Alliances

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• An agreement between Apple and AT&T allows the operator to simplify customer enrollment, device configuration, activation, and MDM software integration

• An expanded agreement with Apple and SAP uses on-device machine learning to help customers create custom, intelligent iOS apps that use augmented reality (AR), and enhance business tasks

While Apple has been successfully courting enterprise buyers for many years with the iPhone and iPad, recent alliances suggest new ways for it to penetrate business accounts. Many businesses already appreciate Apple’s built-in security, while Android devices and laptops provide more variety and less of a vendor lock-in. MDM software for first-line device management and security is about the same on either platform today. So what are the kinds of agreements that Apple is making lately to fortify its position? Continue reading “Apple Still Courting the Enterprise with New Alliances”

IoT Connection Forecasts Point to a Need for New Operator Strategies

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • According to new forecasts from GlobalData, the global number of Internet of Things (IoT) connections will reach 4.5 billion by 2023, dominated by short-range and cellular connections and with a five-year CAGR of 28%.
  • This is only moderately good news for mobile operators, which will see cellular connections grow by only a CAGR of 16% over five years. More importantly, connectivity is only expected to generate 5-10% of total IoT revenues predicted by GlobalData at $317 billion by 2023.

It has been clear for a long time that operators need to move beyond connectivity to make any serious money in IoT. According to new forecasts from GlobalData, the global number of Internet of Things connections will reach 4.5 billion by 2023, dominated by short-range and cellular connections but with especially strong growth from LPWANs. The five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for all IoT connectivity types is moderate, at 28%. Continue reading “IoT Connection Forecasts Point to a Need for New Operator Strategies”

IoT Security is Still a Major Barrier to Adoption

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• IoT security still comes up as the number one deterrent to IoT adoption, year after year (after year!).

• While point solutions abound, the complex supplier ecosystem coupled with the diversity of IoT use cases and device types makes this a hard nut to crack.

Considering the fact that every survey ever conducted among enterprises over the last five years about IoT has shown that the number one barrier to adoption is lack of security, we would have expected the supplier ecosystem to finally “fix” this problem once and for all. But instead, with the advent of massive proliferation of IoT devices upon us, coupled with an occasional high-profile breach, enterprises are more cautious than ever and rightly so. Continue reading “IoT Security is Still a Major Barrier to Adoption”

Are Private 4G/5G Networks a New Battleground for Operators?

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

ary Bullets:

• Mobile operators are hoping to generate substantial revenues from in-building 4G/5G networks; 5G in particular provides an opportunity to replace legacy WiFi and DAS systems and support both fixed and mobile use cases.

• However, private network initiatives from infrastructure vendors, coupled with a scramble for CBRS licenses, as well as DIY plans from companies and commercial landlords imply fierce competition for the operators. Can they win the battle?

Nearly every mobile operator touting future 5G use cases has discussed support for private “in-building” networks as a substantial opportunity, especially in industrial environments in which every machine and environmental parameter sensor will be connected and transmitting data in real-time. While some operators already offer private networks using 4G LTE, many are scoping out future 5G offerings which focus on IoT use cases in industrial environments. Continue reading “Are Private 4G/5G Networks a New Battleground for Operators?”

Operators at MWC: It’s Not Only About 5G

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • While mobile operators certainly made a lot of announcements (and showed a lot of demos) about trials, use cases, and upcoming plans for 5G, there were also a lot of other topics on the table.
  • Other announcements focused not only on existing services (e.g., 4G, IoT), but also on changes deemed necessary for operators’ future success, focusing on collaboration, simplification, and internal transformation.

MWC was expected to focus on 5G, with new buildout plans and service trials, a sprinkling of new 5G devices, and titillating demos of AR/VR applications, AI-powered use cases, and self-driving cars. As expected, leading infrastructure vendors including Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco were touting 5G deals with leading operators and showcasing technology enhancements to support new 5G-powered applications. Continue reading “Operators at MWC: It’s Not Only About 5G”