Huawei is spending a bomb to improve its 5G patent portfolio.
The outfit said that it wants to spend $600 million on 5G wireless research and development from 2013 to 2018.
But speaking to reporters at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday, Huawei Chief Executive Ken Hu said that 5G research spending was likely to rise, without giving specific figures.
Huawei was Europe’s seventh-largest patent filer in 2014, up from 13th the previous year, according a report published last week by the European Patent Office (EPO). It was granted 493 patents by the European agency in 2014, although they were not all 5G related.
5G is supposed to be the next big thing, promises superfast internet speeds, broader network coverage and peace in our lunchtime.
It is also expected to be the driver to hook up objects to the internet from cars to health monitoring devices or the internet of things. The commercial launch of 5G is expected to begin in 2020.
“We have made quite a large number of technology innovations and breakthroughs,” Hu, deputy chairman and ‘rotating’ chief executive of Huawei, said.
These give Huawei a stronger position in terms of intellectual property, he said.
Hu urged cooperation among telecom operators, equipment makers and other industries to agree on a single set of standards for 5G technology to ensure a global market.
Qualcomm has released four Snapdragons 415, 425, 618, and 620 which tighten its grip on the mobile chip maket.
All the SoCs support 64-bit, they all connect to 4G LTE networks—the 425, 618, and 620 and can support super-fast 300 megabit per second networks. The last two chips are based around ARM’s new Cortex A72, instead of a more in-house chip design.
The Snapdragon 618 supports a “next generation Adreno GPU,” an integrated category 7 LTE-Advanced modem (300 Mbps download/100 Mbps upload) and dual image signal processors which support 21 megapixel cameras. It also supports HEVC/H.265 video encode and decode.
The Snapdragon 620 is more of the same but with four Cortex A72 cores instead of two word on the street is that it has a better GPU too.
All the chips should be in the shops in the second half of 2015 where they might rule the mid-range market.
Qualcomm has been snuggling up to ARM lately so that it can focus on the other components of the chip, particularly graphics and the various wireless radios. This has meant that it can churn out chips just as the world wants faster, next generation LTE-Advanced networks.
It is clearly in the lead for now, but that is set to change. Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S6 will have its own designed and manufactured chip under the bonnet. This is because it said it did not like what Qualcomm was doing. Sony and HTC are also dissatisfied and are flirting with chips from MediaTek.
LG’s already working on its own “NUCLUN” chip and there is mutterings that even Intel might have something better.
By the end of 2014 over 100 million people were using LTE Advanced networks and that’s set to grow so that by 2018 a billion people will be covered.
That’s according to a report from ABI Research which said a number of developments this year will spur the makeup of 4G networks.
Those include an LTE spectrum auction in India on the 25th of this month. France has recently confirmed the 700MHz frequency band can be used for telco services.
ABI Research said it expects “fierce competition” in the marketplace over the next four years as more LTE and LTE Advanced systems are rolled out.
According to ABI, there were 49 commercially available LTE Advanced networks globally, with Europe leading the way, followed by the Asia Pacific region. However, the USA is top in population coverage at 7.8 percent with AT&T, Spring, Verizon and T-Mobile all in the fray to capture the market.
Fruity cargo cult Apple has sued the Swedish phone outfit Ericsson in an attempt to break the patent deadlock between the pair.
Apple said that Ericsson’s LTE wireless technology patents are not essential to industry mobile standards and that it is demanding excessive royalties for them.
Jobs’ Mob insists that it has not infringed on the patents and does not owe Ericsson a cent for them.
Ericcson wants cash for the LTE technology calculated as a percentage of the price of the entire smartphone or tablet. However, Apple said that the royalties should be based on the value of the processor chip that includes the technology.
If Ericsson’s patents are deemed essential and the court rules Apple has infringed on them, Apple said it wants the court to assign a reasonable royalty rate.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said that Apple was always willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in its products. However Apple can’t agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.
Apple and Ericsson currently have a license agreement that covers many of Ericsson’s allegedly standard-essential patents. The agreement was signed in 2008 soon after Apple launched the iPhone, according to the court filing.
Although category 9 and category 10 LTE modems are not expected to be released until the end of 2016, take up of the devices will soar meaning that by 2019 there will be 64 million smartphones using the protocols.
That’s according to a report from ABI Research, which said that they’ll have downlink speeds of up to 450Mbps.
ABI pointed out that Qualcomm last week released its first mobile modem semiconductor – the Gobi 9×45 – to support such speeds but they won’t be incorporated into smartphones until the third quarter of next year.
But while the rest of the world will benefit from high mobile broadband speeds, that isn’t going to be true for the USA – ABI estimates that people there aren’t going to be able to enjoy speeds of 300Mbps in the near future.
In Western Europe, LTE (4G) penetration remains low and operators want to shift people to LTE before they even consider implementing LTE-Advanced.
In fact, it will be Chinese and South Korean operators who will be first off the block with networks allowing up to 450Mbps downloads.
Whatever the time scales, it’s obvious that many smartphone users worldwide are going to enjoy some pretty satisfactory download speeds over the next few years.
The widespread adoption of LTE for fast internet access on smartphones and tablets will have a knock on effect on the broadband wireless market.
That’s according to ABI Research, which foresees the widespread adoption of LTE making it easier for people without DSL, cable or fibre optic broadband to have fast internet connections in their home.
And a number of chipset and other vendors will accelerate that push, according to Jake Saunders, 4G director at the market research company.
Those include vendors including Huawei, ZTE, and Netgear, which are all readying routers based on LTE that will let people have 4G connections at home. Chipsets from Intel, Sequans, Qualcomm and GTE are all competing in this space.
Shipment numbers for residential and commercal LTE gateways is set to grow to 44 million units by 2019. Many people living in rural areas who have been excluded from fast net access are likely to have an answer to their problems sooner rather than later.
Scientists from three international universities have twisted again, like they did last summer, and managed to transfer data at the speed of 32 gigabits per second.
This is 30 times faster than 4G LTE wireless technology.
The team, led by Alan Willner, of the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, successfully demonstrated data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5m of free space in his basement.
He pointed out that this is one of the fastest data transmission via radio waves that has been demonstrated.
Dubbed “High-capacity millimetre-wave communications with orbital angular momentum multiplexing” is published in the latest issue of journal Nature Communications.
This speed can only be eclipsed by twisting light, Willner did this two years ago, and achieved data transmission speeds of 2.56 terabits per second. But radio is more reliable because it uses wider, more robust beams. Wider beams are better able to cope with obstacles between the transmitter and the receiver, and radio is not as affected by atmospheric turbulence as optics.
Millimetre waves occupy the 30GHz to 300GHz frequency bands.. They are found in the spectrum between microwaves, which take up the 1GHz to 30GHz bands, and infrared waves, which are sometimes known as extremely high frequency (EHF).
Mobile operators are becoming interested in millimetre waves as they seek to create faster 4G LTE networks and beat congestion from too many users accessing the internet on their phones at one time.
The next plan is to extend the twisted radio beams’ transmission range and capabilities. The technology could have potential applications in data centres, where large bandwidth links between computer clusters are required.
Qualcomm has released its new Snapdragon 210 chip which should mean more LTE smartphones running high-quality video.
Sticking two fingers up at its rival MediaTek, Qualcomm has built a 28-nm chip for the entry-level market. It has based around a 1.1 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 300-series GPU, supports up to 8 megapixel cameras, and has a resolution of up to 720p. Not huge but you are trying to watch a movie on a screen the size of a beer mat.
It supports HD Video with high efficiency video coding support and supports the usual USB, Bluetooth, single-stream 802.11n WiFi, and NFC standards.
Qualcomm claims this is the first LTE-Advanced chipset to target the sub-US$100 phone category.
It is clear that Qualcomm wants to be the first of the starting blocks with this sort of technology. The world is slowly moving to LTE but most of it is happy with its 3G phones.
Chinese makers of tablets are adding top notch features to their offerings threatening a price war in the European and US markets.
That’s according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, which said that the vendors will offer LTE, ultrathin bezels and 13 megapix cameras.
And the vendors will aim to flood the European and US markets with the products, making it increasingly difficult for bog standard players to make much margin on the products, the wire adds.
The vendors are cranking up their volumes and aiming at large outlets to sell their cut price high end devices. That means that companies like Intel are unlikely to make much of a dent in these markets, despite its efforts to penetrate an already competitive market.
* In other news, Intel has finally managed to trademark the letter “i”, according to our sister publication, TechEye.
The findings of the latest Ericsson Mobility Report indicate that the smartphone craze has not peaked just yet. The report found that the number of mobile subscriptions will reach 9.3 billion by 2019 and more than 60 percent of all subscriptions will be for smartphones.
An estimated 90 percent of the world’s population will be covered by current generation WCDMA/HSPA networks, while 65 percent of the population will have LTE coverage. Smartphone data traffic is expected to increase tenfold over the next six years.
“The rapid pace of smartphone uptake has been phenomenal and is set to continue. It took more than five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, but it will take less than two to hit the 2 billion mark,” said Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy at Ericsson.
“Between now and 2019, smartphone subscriptions will triple. Interestingly, this trend will be driven by uptake in China and other emerging markets as lower-priced smartphone models become available.”
At the moment, smartphones account for about 25 to 30 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions, but they are already outpacing feature phones in terms of new sales.
EE has announced it has reached the one million mark milestone for its 4G customers – but it could have done even better.
The company aggressively rolled out its infrastructure ahead of the pack as it was the first major telco granted access to the UK’s 4G spectrum. EE had some attractive smartphones to peddle, including the top players like the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s popular Galaxy range.
One million customers is not to be sniffed at. However, EE was alone in offering LTE, so potential buyers who wanted to make the most out of 4G capabilities on newer devices had to turn to the company.
With the aggressive launch came aggressive price points. Ovum’s Steve Hartley explained to TechEye how EE could have been leaving the competition completely in the dust.
The number of LTE subscribers worldwide is expected to hit 915 million by the end of 2016 and it should pass the one billion mark sometime in 2017.
According to European thinktank IDATE, demand for LTE services will remain strong for years to come.
Out of 915 million subscribers in 2016, Asia-Pacific is expected to represent a sizeable 41.6 percent of the total, North America 21.6 percent, Africa/Middle East 7.5 percent, Eastern Europe 4.9 percent and Western Europe 15.8 percent.
IDATE found that LTE is now mainstream, with major deployments in every region. However, China has yet to decide on the future of TD-LTE and the first LTE Advanced networks should start appearing later this year.
IDATE also warned that increased mobile broadband traffic is putting more pressure on networks and driving demand for more spectrum in sub-1GHz bands for LTE and LTE Advanced networks. It believes 700MHz is the most promising option for a harmonized frequency band across all major regions.
Europe’s decision to auction off the 800MHz band without proper coordination is negatively affecting compatibility, IDATE found. However, harmonisation could prove tricky, as 700MHz LTE services are not expected to launch in Europe before 2020, although Germany and France are expected to organise auctions as soon as 2015.
EE has reached another 4G milestone. After becoming the first UK telco to roll out a commercial 4G network, it is now proudly proclaiming that it already has 500,000 customers. This makes it one of the leading European 4G operators and Britain is expected to become the largest 4G market later this year.
Consumers and carriers are slowly but surely transitioning to 4G and the hunger for high speed broadband on the go is transforming the way we use our clever mobile devices, including traditional kit like notebooks. Earlier this week Samsung announced its first 5G milestone, proudly telling the world that 1Gbps 5G is coming by 2020.