We designed workshops in emerging technologies to help executives gather the important facts and get a head-start on establishing a strategy to leverage innovation.
Each workshop is delivered by a sector practitioner with insights into both technology and market aspects.
The workshops could be customized to address specific interests.
Artificial Intelligence: Xona eXponent Workshop on Artificial Intelligence
Blockchains: Xona eXponent Workshop on Blockchains
5G: Demystifying 5G for Decision Makers. [Free of charge to qualified clients.]
Contact me for additional information and to book your workshop.
Results from the recent UK spectrum auction and the minimum price set by the Korean regulator show record 3.5 GHz spectrum valuation.
UK operators paid £1.16 Billion ($1.64 Billion) for 150 MHz. In Korea, the regulator asked for close to $2.5 Billion for 280 MHz.
For comparison, the 3.5 GHz UK spectrum is more than 5x the price paid in Spain and more 3x the price paid in Ireland, two years ago. It is also more than 39x the price paid in the UK in 2003!
It is common to pin the 5G value proposition on its performance, mainly capacity* and latency. These features will enable applications that operators can monetize. However, I will argue here that capacity and latency are secondary to realizing the full 5G value proposition. Capacity and latency make for big headlines and are easy to grasp by the common subscriber. But the true value of 5G resides elsewhere: it lies in the network architecture of 5G. It is not that capacity and latency are not important. However, if we think of 5G purely from capacity and latency perspective, we could misread how the market could evolve. Continue reading
In my earlier post, I outlined a few myth about 5G to avoid the cascading technology trap. Here, I like to extend the discussion and share a few data points on the cost of 5G networks. Over the past few months, our team has analyzed vendors’ roadmaps and product features, assessed spectrum and its cost, and developed deployment scenarios and cost models for 5G. We used this information to optimize our financial models and to deepen our understanding of potential operator strategies in upgrading to 5G networks.
5G Capital Expenses
Taking South Korea as an example – a country of 51 million people with excellent fiber infrastructure that’s widely available to support the backbone of 5G services, the cost of 5G is set to exceed $8 Billion in capital investments for a single service provider. This excludes over $870 million for 100 MHz in 3.5 GHz that’s scheduled for auction in June*. Continue reading
There are a few myth about 5G that I came about in discussions with executives, investors, smart city officials and other parties active in technology development and planning for new services. Two examples:
- Don’t bother deploying a certain IoT technology – for example LoRaWAN or similar technology – because 5G will serve all these applications (e.g. street lighting, smart parking, etc.)
- Don’t bother with fixed wireless access in rural areas. 5G will make current fixed access services redundant.
You get the drift: 5G is the mother of all technologies; it will serve all applications, so don’t bother with anything else! Continue reading
Is blockchain just a buzzword, or can we expect real applications? If it is for real, where’s the opportunity? Xona’s thoughts on these questions are in the video below. Here, I give my own take on these questions.
Artificial intelligence is in yet another hype cycle – the fourth since the 1960’s. What is different this time from past hype cycles is that it is driven by data from the bottom up as opposed a top-down approach in previous hype cycles. The pervasiveness of connectivity and the Internet make AI applicable in many industries, including telecom. At the year’s Mobile World Congress, AI was a key theme. But there was little to show that has not been demonstrated in prior shows. So what are the prospects and challenges for the implementation of AI and how could AI applications in telecom evolve in the future?
A hotshot view!
Before leaving a few of my thoughts – the following video shows the view on AI in telecom from the experts:
The Xona Partners team was at Mobile World Congress and compiled a set of takeaways focusing on industry trends (link). Here, I wanted to add some personal observations on MWC 2018 which is a good barometer of the state on the wireless industry. But I don’t think you can judge based on the size of the event. Rather, it’s the many other signals that tell the story. This year comes in the midst of a slump in network solution revenues and a wave of consolidation of ecosystem players. The event shows how different companies deal with economic reality and an industry-wide transformation that’s reshaping the competitive landscape. Continue reading
Startups lead innovation in the technology world. But is there room for startups in the telecom world? And, what is the future of innovation in this industry? Innovation is one of the themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress which is starting next week, so will the ecosystem address this question?
Is telecom a utility play?
Services providers play a major role in setting the tempo of the industry: they own the end customer. For years, service providers squeezed vendors on price forming large purchasing consortia and bargaining down to the penny. Profit margins, which continue to shrink for everyone, are getting close to levels seen in utilities.
Startups seeking to sell into carrier have to pass many challenges, spend tons of money and wait years for acceptance and a purchase order. VCs don’t have patience for such processes; they backed off from many types of investment in this sector long ago. Continue reading
One of the criticisms of blockchain technology center on power consumption and the cost of mining. The electricity consumed in mining operations is high and continues to grow as mining difficulty increases in response to increasing processing power. Some think that blockchains is wasteful technology that is not compliant with a 21st century outlook for a green economy. Others accept it as the price to achieve consensus and trust in decentralized networks. Following recent work in this space, I like to share a perspective by making a comparison to the energy used in communication systems.
Bitcoin mining vs. mobile base stations
My estimates for bitcoin mining power consumption is around 7,000 MW, a average of a floor of 1,200 MW and ceiling of 12,000 MW. Many external sources point to values in the same range (at the time of writing, this example places power consumption on par with that used in Singapore). By comparison, I estimate that all the mobile base stations use around 12,100 MW, of which around 20% is in China. The power consumption for bitcoin mining has been increasing at a relatively fast pace. On the other hand, power comparison of mobile base station increases at around 2% annual. Based on this, the power used for bitcoin mining is set to overtake that used by mobile base stations this year, by late fourth quarter. Continue reading
Look at how well the price of Bitcoin correlates with its search trend. As Bitcoin raced to a record high nearing $20,000 earlier this month, so were the number of searches. We can see the same thing happening in 2013-2014 when a mini hype bubble developed focusing on narrow segments of people. Today’s hype bubble is more wide-spread and affects a much wider segment of people.
Bitcoin hype bubble
Bitcoin is one of the top stories in 2017. So are ICOs which raised over $2 Billion in funding, much of which in the second half of 2017, overtaking traditional equity investments in blockchain startups. If we plot ICO funding and its corresponding search term, we’ll have a similar graph. They too are in a hype bubble.
This past week, I had the pleasure to moderate a panel on digital transformation and to join my Artificial Intelligence-expert partners at Xona in conducting a workshop on AI at TMT Finance World Congress to a crowd of ecosystem professionals. It is ironic that an industry that is a catalyst to the transformation of many other industries is itself in dire need to change. Telcos increasingly feel they are in a ‘straight jacket’ with few and painful options [some telcos actually still don’t see that: many incumbents still enjoy regulatory protection and sit happy where they are!]. Launching new services in the digital world is exponentially more complex with hardware-based networks. Transformation into efficient ‘digital entities’ through software and data is hard. Financial markets value enterprises with consideration to their future cash flow. Amazon, Google and Microsoft market cap alone stand at ~4x that of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile combined. With the background, what does AI has to do with digital transformation?
Cloud players continue to set record revenues and profits while the telcos grapple with stalled revenues. The market cap of three to the top cloud players – Amazon, Google and Microsoft – stand at around $1.9 trillion while the top 4 US telcos – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, stand at under $500 billion. The telcos have lost the ‘Cloud 1.0’ battle to the OTTs. But, is there a way for the telcos to be more competitive? More specifically: can edge computing provide the telcos a competitive advantage over the cloud players?
[Source: Xona Partners]
Performance predictability is fundamental to the operation of any service provider. It is the foundation on which processes are built. Processes drive efficiency. So when it comes to deploying wireless technologies on large scale, service providers look for the “cookie-cutter” approach. No matter what a technology is, it will get little if any market traction if it cannot be deployed with relative certainty of performance. Continue reading