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5G Workshop: Demystifying 5G for Decision Makers

5G as a platform for private networks and enterprise applications is more than just another service provider technology. Enterprises, neutral host service providers, building owners, asset management companies and many others are asking about the potential impact of 5G.

We have prepared the 5G workshop to provide the facts – not sell the hype of 5G. The objective of the workshop is to enable ecosystem players understand both the technology and market dynamics that will bring it about. The workshop is intended to help companies prepare their strategy for 5G.

Download brochure: Demystifying 5G for Decision Makers.

The 5G workshop is free of charge to qualified clients.

Contact me for additional information and to book your workshop.

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Executive Workshops: AI, Blockchains and 5G

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.

Artificial IntelligenceXona eXponent Workshop on Artificial Intelligence

BlockchainsXona eXponent Workshop on Blockchains

The workshops could be customized to address specific interests.

Contact me for additional information and to book your workshop.

The Algiers Smart City Project: A Talent Mobilization Platform

Algiers Smart CityThe Algiers Smart City Project is more than just another smart city project: It is a platform for talent mobilization. Over the past week, I had the pleasure to participate in the Smart Cities Summit in Algiers and as mentor and judge in the Leapfrog Hackathon and Startup Challenge. These events were designed to focus attention on Algiers burgeoning startup scene and enhance interaction with global actors to address the IDC syndrome.  Continue reading

5G Spectrum Costs: The Value of 3.5 GHz Spectrum

3.5 GHz 5G Spectrum ValuationInterest in the 3.5 GHz band is increasing as its set to become the global 5G spectrum band. We recently undertook a study for a new research report* of global 3.5 GHz band to uncover the impact on the 5G deployment timelines and ecosystem. One of the fundamental questions is putting figures on the value of the 3.5 GHz band. Our analysis shows that on average 3.5 GHz spectrum is 36% that of 2.6 GHz spectrum. In the meantime, we estimate that a 3.5 GHz network will require 15% more cell sites than a 2.6 GHz network. This leads us to conclude that prices for 3.5 GHz spectrum will rise. We also identified a number of issues that regulators will have to address to improve the value and utilization of this band.

5G Spectrum: 3.5 GHz Spectrum Valuation

5G Spectrum: 3.5 GHz Spectrum Valuation [Source: Xona Partners]

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Telecom is a Utility!

Telecom Valuation MultiplesIt’s official! Telecom is a utility! The admission comes from service providers themselves. Service providers struggled to monetize value added services to keep from being dumb pipes. Now, it seems that they have resigned themselves to being a utility and are happy to be the pipe. This admission came at the TMT M&A Merger Forum in London last week that I attended. While European service providers dominated event, the sentiment includes service providers all over the world, except for the US. In fact, the rest of the world is just content to watch developments in the US. Continue reading

3.5 GHz Spectrum Valuation Setting New Records

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!

UK 3.5 GHz spectrum valuation 2018 vs. 2003

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The True 5G Value Proposition: It’s not about Speed and Latency!

5G FutureIt 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

The Cost of 5G

Cost of 5G Capex spectrum In my earlier post, I outlined a few myths 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

5G Myths and the Cascading Technology Trap.

5G TechnologyThere 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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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 Blockchains a Buzzword?

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. 

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The AI-Telco Intersect Opportunity: A Dehype!

AI Telco applicationsArtificial 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:

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Observations from MWC 2018

MWC 2018The 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

Is There Room for Innovation in Telecom?

MWC 2018 telecom InnovationStartups 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

Power Consumption: Bitcoin Mining vs. Mobile Base Stations

Bitcoin vs. Mobile Base Station Power ConsumptionOne 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

Blame it on the Internet!

Bitcoin Hype BubbleLook 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 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.

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