Intel announces two new 11th-gen chips and a 5G M.2 laptop module at Computex

Intel kicked off this year’s virtual Computex by announcing two new 11th Gen U-Series chips for use in thin, lightweight laptops. It also unveiled its first 5G M.2 module for laptops, designed in a partnership with MediaTek (Intel sold its smartphone modem business to Apple in 2019).

Both of Intel’s new chips have Intel Irix Xe graphics. The flagship model is the Core i7-1195G7, which has base clock speed is 2.9 GHz, but can reach up to 5.0 GHz on a single core using Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 tech. The other chip, called the Core i5-1155G7, has a base clock speed of 2.5GHzm and a maximum of 4.5GHz. Both chips have four cores and eight threads.

A comparison chart of Intel's new 11th-gen chips

A comparison chart of Intel’s new 11th-gen chips

The 5G M.2 module, called the “5G Solution 5000,” supports 5G NR midband, sub-6GHz frequencies and eSIM tech. Intel has partnerships with telecoms in North America, EMEA, APAC, Japan and Australia. The module is expected to be in laptops produced by Acer, ASUS, HP and other manufacturers by the end of this year, and OEMs are also working on 250 designs based on 11th Gen U-Series chips, expected to hit the market by the holidays.

Specs for Intel's new 5G M.2 module

Specs for Intel’s new 5G M.2 module

 

#5g, #chips, #computex, #cpus, #intel, #tc

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China expresses concern over its absence in India’s 5G trials

China expressed concern on Wednesday over India’s move to not grant any Chinese firm permission to participate in 5G trials in the world’s second largest internet market as the two neighboring nations struggle to navigate business ties amid their geo-political tensions.

India’s Department of Telecommunications earlier this week approved over a dozen firm’s applications to conduct a six-month trial to test the use and application of 5G technology in the country.

Among those who have received the approval include international giants such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung that will collaborate with Indian telecom operators Jio Platforms, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and MTNL for the trial.

Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies, that have been operating in India for several years, haven’t received the approval from the Indian government to participate in the upcoming trial. The Indian ministry said earlier this week that it granted permission to those firms that had been picked by the telecom operators.

Wang Xiaojian, the spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India, said in a statement on Wednesday that the nation expresses “concern and regret that Chinese telecommunications companies have not been permitted to conduct 5G trials with Indian Telecom Service Providers in India.”

“Relevant Chinese companies have been operating in India for years, providing mass job opportunities and making contribution to India’s infrastructure construction in telecommunications. To exclude Chinese telecommunications companies from the trials will not only harm their legitimate rights and interests, but also hinder the improvement of the Indian business environment, which is not conducive to the innovation and development of related Indian industries,” added Xiaojian.

Last year, Airtel (India’s second-largest telecom operator) had said that it was open to collaborating with global technology firms, including those from China, for components. “Huawei, over the last 10 or 12 years, has become extremely good with their products to a point where I can safely today say their products at least in 3G, 4G that we have experienced is significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia without a doubt. And I use all three of them,” Sunil Mittal, the founder of Airtel, said at a conference last year.

In the same panel, then U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross had urged India and other allies of the U.S. to avoid Huawei.

The geo-political tension between India and China escalated last year with skirmishes at the shared border. India, which early last year amended a rule to make it difficult for Chinese firms to invest in Indian companies, has since banned over 200 apps including TikTok, UC Browser and PUBG Mobile that have ties with China over national security concerns.

India’s move earlier this week follows similar decisions taken by the U.S., U.K. and Australia, all of which have expressed concerns about Huawei and ZTE and their ties with the Chinese government.

“The Chinese side hopes that India could do more to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries, and provide an open, fair, just, and non-discriminatory investment and business environment for market entities from all countries, including China, to operate and invest in India,” wrote Xiaojian.

Last year, China had expressed “serious concerns” and “firmly opposed” India’s charges that Chinese apps posed national security concerns. The Chinese Embassy had alleged that by banning apps with links to China, New Delhi was engaging in “discriminatory practices” that “violated WTO rules.”

#5g, #airtel, #asia, #china, #government, #huawei, #india, #jio-platforms, #vodafone-idea, #zte

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Verizon “leads” all US carriers in mmWave 5G availability at 0.8%

A giant Verizon 5G logo in an expo hall.

Enlarge / A Verizon booth at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles in September 2018. (credit: Verizon)

US mobile customers are almost never able to connect to millimeter-wave networks even though the cellular industry and Verizon in particular have spent years hyping the fastest form of 5G.

AT&T and T-Mobile customers with devices capable of using millimeter-wave networks were connected to mmWave 5G only 0.5 percent of the time during the 90-day period between January 16 and April 15, 2021, according to an OpenSignal report released today. Even on Verizon, the carrier with the most aggressive rollout of mmWave 5G, users with compatible devices spent 0.8 percent of their time on the high-frequency network that uses its large capacity to provide faster speeds than low- and mid-band spectrum.

Average download speeds on mmWave 5G were 232.7Mbps for AT&T, 215.3Mbps for T-Mobile, and 692.9Mbps for Verizon. You can see the average time connected to mmWave 5G and the average speeds in these charts from OpenSignal:

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#5g, #att, #biz-it, #millimeter-wave, #opensignal, #t-mobile, #verizon

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Google denies Pixel 5a 5G cancelation, confirming it’s coming this year

Sometimes you’ve just got to confirm an unannounced product to put the rumors to bed, I guess. That was Google’s strategy this afternoon, following earlier rumors from Android Central that a chip shortage had put the kibosh on the mid-budget phone.

In a comment to TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson noted, “Pixel 5a 5G is not cancelled. It will be available later this year in the U.S. and Japan and announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.”

That time frame would put the device’s arrival around late-summer, meaning it won’t arrive in time for Google I/O in May, as some speculated. Interestingly, the company appears to be limiting the device’s availability to two countries — at least at launch. That could, perhaps, be due to earlier-reported component shortages.

As The Verge notes, the company hasn’t been particularly precious when it comes to product announcements. The company took a similar approach ahead of the release of the Pixel. Either way, this isn’t exactly the standard big company approach to rumor denial, which is to either not answer or otherwise deflect.

Google may well be on edge about its Pixel line these days. The phone line hasn’t exactly taken the mobile world be storm, resulting in longstanding rumors that the company is looking to shake things up. That, in part, has seemingly been confirmed by some fairly high-profile exits.

Still, even while there have been issues on the premium side, the company’s budget “a” line has helped buoy its overall numbers. No word yet on specific specs, but the handset is not expected to be a radical departure from its predecessor.

 

#5g, #gadgets, #google, #hardware, #mobile, #pixel-5a

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T-Mobile 5G home Internet: $60 a month, 100Mbps speeds, and no data cap

T-Mobile's 5G home Internet gateway sitting on a desk next to a tablet.

Enlarge / T-Mobile’s 5G home Internet gateway. (credit: T-Mobile)

T-Mobile yesterday launched a $60-per-month 5G home Internet service, saying that it will generally provide download speeds of 50 to 100Mbps and upload speeds of 10 to 25Mbps.

The $60 monthly price includes everything, T-Mobile said, promising, “No added taxes or fees. No equipment fees. No contracts. No surprises or exploding bills.” The service has no data cap, but T-Mobile’s home Internet customers will get slower speeds than mobile customers in times of congestion.

“During congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization,” T-Mobile said in a footnote in the announcement. T-Mobile says this should be rare. In its Open Internet disclosure, T-Mobile said that home Internet “customers receive the same network prioritization as Heavy Data Users, but should be less likely to experience congestion because the equipment is stationary and available in limited areas.” (“Heavy Data Users” are mobile customers who face potential slowdowns because they exceed a specific limit, which is 50GB per month on most T-Mobile plans. The 50GB threshold is not used for 5G home Internet, but the home service may be slowed down relative to mobile speeds when the network is congested even if a home customer hasn’t used much data that month.)

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#5g, #5g-home-internet, #biz-it, #t-mobile

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Verizon and Honda want to use 5G and edge computing to make driving safer

Honda and Verizon are researching how 5G and mobile edge computing might improve safety for today’s connected vehicles and the future’s autonomous ones. 

The two companies, which announced the partnership Thursday, are piloting different safety scenarios at the University of Michigan’s Mcity, a test bed for connected and autonomous vehicles. The aim of the venture is to study how 5G connectivity coupled with edge computing could allow for faster communication between cars, pedestrians and infrastructure. The upshot: faster communication could allow cars to avoid collisions and hazards and find safer routes. [TechCrunch is owned by Verizon Media, which is itself owned by Verizon]

The 5G testing is in its preliminary research phase and Honda doesn’t intend to implement this new technology as a product feature just yet. The companies do have plans to test 5G-enabled vehicles on public roads in at least four cities this year, according to Brian Peebles, Verizon’s senior manager of technology development and one of the leads on the project.  

This partnership builds off of Honda’s onboard SAFE SWARM AI technology, which the automaker began developing in 2017. That technology uses Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything, or C-V2X communication, which does what the name implies and lets vehicles communicate with other road users.

We’ve seen similar tech before with Dedicated Short Range Communications which requires cell towers to communicate between vehicles. V2X and 5G have the advantage of being able to communicate device-to-device, not to mention endorsement by the FCC.

“Traditionally, with V2X, the cars talk to each other,” Dr. Ehsan Moradi Pari, research group lead at Honda’s advanced technology research division told TechCrunch. “They provide their information, like their location, speed and other sensor information, and the car does a threat assessment, like whether I’m going to collide with another car. What this [5G and MEC] technology offers is that we all provide our information to the network, and the network tells me if there is a potential for an accident or not.”

Honda and Verizon’s premise is that the technology can handle communication far faster than a car’s computer. Instead of relying on a car’s less capable computer to do the work, information generated from connected cars, people and infrastructure is sent up into the 5G network. The computations are then done at the edge of network (meaning not in the cloud) in real time.

The payoff: a car relying on sensors and software might be able to understand a driver is about to hit something and hit the breaks, but the MEC can almost see into the future by checking out and communicating what’s happening farther down the road. 

One of the safety scenarios that Verizon and Honda tested was a red light runner. Using data from smart cameras, MEC and V2X software they were able to detect the vehicle running a red light and send a visual warning message to other vehicles approaching the intersection. They tested similar scenarios to warn drivers or vehicles about a pedestrian obscured by a building and an oncoming emergency vehicle whose sirens are drowned out by the car’s loud music. 

“Ensuring real-time communication among all road users will play a critical role in an automated driving environment,” said Pari. “Through these connected safety technologies, we can develop vehicle systems that detect potential dangerous situations in real time to warn the driver or automated system.”

While this initial research stage involves making human-driven vehicles safer, the Honda-Verizon partnership might eventually lay the groundwork for the use of 5G in future autonomous vehicles. If testing proves out, connected vehicles would be safer and could lead to a more efficient network that smooths out traffic congestion and reduces air pollution. 

“We’re primarily doing this to promote vehicle safety and human safety,” Peebles told TechCrunch. “There are over 42,000 people a year in the United States alone that are killed in automobile accidents, and another two million are injured. Technology is becoming more crucial as we undergo an evolution of human drivers, so as that transition happens, we need to do it in a safe and orchestrated manner, such that everything is working together.”

Autonomous vehicles being tested on public roads today don’t require 5G or edge computing. While autonomous vehicle companies are eyeing what might be possible with 5G, the vehicles they’re developing are based on present-day technology.

There are headwinds to this 5G-MEC combination. This level of interconnectivity only works if there are sensors on every highway and every intersection. Many 5G-enabled vehicles and devices will be able to communicate with one another, but they can only communicate with pedestrians or infrastructure if smart cameras are clocking them and sharing that info with the network. And sensors are not perfect.

That would require a huge infrastructure investment as well as public acceptance and cooperation with states, cities and localities to install all of the necessary sensors. However, one might look to China as a use case. The country has a national policy to move rapidly over to a 5G network, and many Chinese autonomous driving companies are finding this type of connectivity and computational power essential to development.

#5g, #5g-network, #automotive, #autonomous-driving, #honda, #mcity, #self-driving-cars, #tc, #transportation, #university-of-michigan, #verizon

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LG’s exit from the smartphone market comes as no surprise

For those who follow the space, LG will be remembered fondly as a smartphone trailblazer. For a decade-and-a-half, the company was a major player in the Android category and a driving force behind a number of innovations that have since become standard.

Perhaps the most notable story is that of the LG Prada. Announced a month before the first iPhone, the device helped pioneer the touchscreen form factor that has come to define virtually every smartphone since. At the time, the company openly accused Apple of ripping off its design, noting, “We consider that Apple copycat Prada phone after the design was unveiled when it was presented in the iF Design Award and won the prize in September 2006.”

LG has continued pushing envelopes – albeit to mixed effect. In the end, however, the company just couldn’t keep up. This week, the South Korean electronics giant announced it will be getting out of the “incredibly competitive” category, choosing instead to focus on its myriad other departments.

The news comes as little surprise following months of rumors that the company was actively looking for a buyer for the smartphone unit. In the end, it seems, none were forthcoming. This July, the company will stop selling phones beyond what remains of its existing inventory.

The smartphone category is, indeed, a competitive one. And frankly, LG’s numbers have pretty consistently fallen into the “Others” category of global smartphone market share figures ruled by names like Samsung, Apple, Huawei and Xiaomi. The other names clustered beneath the top five have been, more often than not, other Chinese manufacturers like Vivo.

#5g, #ec-hardware, #ec-news-analysis, #hardware, #lg, #mobile, #smartphone

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US sanctions are squeezing Huawei, but for how long?

US sanctions are squeezing Huawei, but for how long?

Enlarge (credit: Barcroft Media | Getty Images)

Huawei, the crown jewel of China’s tech industry, is reeling from a financial one-two punch delivered by US chip sanctions and a campaign aimed at cutting international markets.

But with Huawei rapidly expanding into new markets and the Chinese government investing heavily to gain technological independence from the West, that leverage may not last for long.

The US government has targeted Huawei over alleged espionage and ties to the state, claiming that the company’s 5G wireless equipment poses a security risk. The rise of Chinese companies is viewed by many in the West as linked to the Chinese government’s power and its brand of techno-authoritarianism.

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#5g, #chipsets, #cpus, #huawei, #policy, #sanctions, #tech

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Huawei plans to start charging patent fees to Samsung, Apple for each phone sold

Promotional image of cutting-edge smartphone.

Enlarge / Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, which includes a 5G modem. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Huawei plans to start charging big smartphone-makers like Samsung and Apple royalties for use of its various 5G-related patents, according to CNBC.

Huawei is seeking to make up some of the losses it has experienced as a result of the US government’s moves to sanction the company and limit its ability to sell products in the American market. The US government says national security concerns have driven the policy.

Apple and Samsung would each have to pay up to $2.50 per smartphone sold, with Huawei promising to cap it there and keep rates lower than competitors like Qualcomm or Nokia. For example, Nokia has capped its licensing rate at around $3.58 per unit.

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#5g, #apple, #huawei, #patents, #samsung, #smartphones, #tech

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Verizon tells users to disable 5G to preserve battery, then deletes tweet

A giant Verizon 5G logo in an expo hall.

Enlarge / A Verizon booth at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles in September 2018. (credit: Verizon)

Verizon has spent years hyping 5G despite it bringing just a minor speed upgrade outside the limited areas where millimeter-wave spectrum has been deployed, but the carrier’s support team advised users yesterday to shut 5G off if their phones are suffering from poor battery life.

The tweet from VZWSupport, now deleted, said, “Are you noticing that your battery life is draining faster than normal? One way to help conserve battery life is to turn on LTE. Just go to Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data and tap LTE.”

While Verizon didn’t mention 5G in the tweet, people who responded to Verizon on Twitter and journalists writing stories noted that the effect of these instructions is to shut 5G off. “LTE is active by default as a backup for those times when 5G isn’t available. Following these instructions actually has the effect of turning off 5G,” Mashable noted. (Verizon’s instructions are for iOS, but it’s also possible to disable 5G on Android phones.)

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#5g, #biz-it, #verizon

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Verizon and AT&T dominate spectrum auction, spending combined $69 billion

A US map with lines representing communications networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | metamorworks)

Verizon and AT&T dominated the US government’s latest spectrum auction, spending a combined $68.9 billion on licenses in the upper 3GHz band.

Verizon’s winning bids totaled $45.45 billion, while AT&T’s came in at $23.41 billion. T-Mobile was third with $9.34 billion as the three biggest wireless carriers accounted for the vast majority of the $81.17 billion in winning bids, the Federal Communications Commission said in results released yesterday. US Cellular, a regional carrier, was a distant fourth in spending, at $1.28 billion, but came in third, ahead of T-Mobile, in the number of licenses won.

The auction distributed 280MHz worth of spectrum in the “C-Band” between 3.7GHz and 3.98GHz. This spectrum will help carriers boost network capacity with mid-band frequencies that cover large geographic areas and penetrate walls more effectively than the higher millimeter-wave frequencies that provide the fastest 5G speeds to very limited geographic areas.

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#5g, #att, #biz-it, #fcc, #policy, #spectrum-auction, #t-mobile, #verizon

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Huawei launches its next foldable in China

Huawei’s first foldable feels like a distant memory. Announced in 2019, the company went back to the drawing board prior to release, as Samsung ran into its own much publicized issues with the innovative form factor.

The Mate X was well-received among journalists — I had the opportunity to spend some time with it at the company’s HQ in China and was impressed with the build quality. But for various reasons, it never made its way outside of China. And there’s some reason to believe that the newly announced X2 will suffer a similar fate.

The new handset has already drawn its share of comparisons to Samsung’s early models — and rightfully so, to be honest. The X2’s form factor appears to share much more in common with the Galaxy Fold from a design standpoint than its own predecessor. And while Samsung’s model got off to a rocky start or two, the company was also the first to get things fairly right after a bit of public trial and error.

And like Samsung, Huawei is leading with improvements to the hinge mechanism as a big selling point here. It’s the sort of meat and potatoes thing that would be glossed over in most other devices, but the hinge has proven one of the major pain points for these devices — and as much as a company might test behind the scenes, there’s no replacing real-world usage.

The primary, foldable display is eight inches, with a 6.45-inch screen on the outside — a bit more than the Galaxy Fold 2, in both cases (at 7.6 and 6.2 inches, respectively). In the rendering, the front screen occupies most of the device, with a bit of a bezel and a camera cut out. There’s 5G on board, too, paired with Huawei’s proprietary Kirin 9000 chip and a 4,400mAh battery.

The system is, of course, missing a pretty significant feature, courtesy of all of those blacklists. The company is pushing the presence of the Android 10-based EMUI 11.0 (Based on Android 10). Likely the device will also feature Huawei’s own HarmonyOS, in lieu of Android. The company’s been building out its operating system in recent years with the understanding that it would likely become a flashpoint in U.S./China tensions.

We have yet to see a full version of the software, but it’s hard to imagine it being as complete or robust as Google’s 12-year-old mobile OS — not to mention Google’s various apps.

The Mate X2 arrives in China on February 25, starting at around $2,800.

#5g, #foldable, #foldables, #harmonyos, #huawei, #mobile, #smartphones

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Apple is already working on developing 6G wireless technology

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, side-by-side

Enlarge / The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, side by side. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has posted multiple job listings indicating that it is hiring engineers to work on 6G technology internally so it does not have to rely on partners like Qualcomm as the next generation of wireless technology hits several years down the line.

The job listings, which were first spotted and reported by Bloomberg, include titles like “Wireless Research Systems Engineer – 5G/6G” and “RAN1/RAN4 Standards Engineer.”

The listings have statements like “You will be part of a team defining and doing research of next-generation standards like 6G,” “You will research and design next-generation (6G) wireless communication systems for radio access networks with emphasis on the PHY/MAC/L2/L3 layers,” “Participate in industry/academic forums passionate about 6G technology,” and “Contribute to future 3GPP RAN work items on 6G technology.”

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#5g, #6g, #apple, #bloomberg, #iphone, #qualcomm, #tech, #wireless

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Atlanta area gets a 5G incubator courtesy of T-Mobile and Georgia Tech

The Atlanta area is getting a new incubator for startups working with 5G technology courtesy of T-Mobile and Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center, the companies announced today.

It’s an expansion of the T-Mobile Accelerator program and part of the big carrier’s efforts to boost 5G innovation.

Located in the Atlanta adjacent exurb of Peachtree Corners’ technology development park, which is already equipped with T-Mobile’s 5G services, the incubator will help developers build and test 5G use cases including autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, mixed reality training and entertainment, remote medical care and personal health, the company said.

Startups working with the 5G Connected Future program will work directly with folks at T-Mobile’s accelerator, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab, an initiative in the Peachtree Corners campus.

“In addition to the normal startup concerns, entrepreneurs in the 5G space face a unique set of challenges such as regulatory issues at the state and local levels, network security, and integration testing,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

Peachtree Corners’ setup may help folks navigate that roll out. As part of its involvement ATDC will offer programing, recruit and evaluate startups, and hire staff to manage the vertical in Peachtree Corners, the organization said.

“This collaboration is a great opportunity for ATDC and Georgia Tech, the city of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab, and T-Mobile, a Fortune 50 company, to create a unique collection to work with these companies, refine their ideas into scalable companies, and bring these solutions to market more quickly,” Avery said.

 

Such a partnership underscores “Georgia Tech’s commitment to enabling tomorrow’s technology leaders, which remains as strong as when ATDC was founded 41 years ago,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Innovation cannot take place in a vacuum, which is why entrepreneurs and startups require the knowledge and resources provided through partnerships such as ours.”

#5g, #atlanta, #director, #georgia-tech, #science-and-technology, #startup-company, #t-mobile, #tc, #technology, #telecommunications

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Mobile World Congress will proceed without vaccination requirements

Crowds view new smartphones at a prior MWC event.

Enlarge / Crowds view new smartphones at a prior MWC event. (credit: LGEPR. License: CC BY 2.0)

Mobile World Congress (MWC) will move forward this year, but vaccination will not be required for attendance when the Barcelona event takes place in June, according to organizers.

“Our view is it would be great if the world was vaccinated, but we can’t rely on that in 2021, so instead we’re relying on testing upfront to ensure our bubble isn’t just the Fira Gran Via but the whole of Barcelona,” global mobile tech industry association GSMA’s CEO, John Hoffman, told Mobile World Live.

Attendees must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event, with testing available on site. Further, the event’s organizers claim they will use some form of “technology” to create a “touchless environment” at the event, which is often at least partially focused on handling smartphones and other devices with touchscreens.

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#5g, #conferences, #conventions, #covid-19, #gsma, #john-hoffman, #mobile, #mobile-world-congress, #mwc-2021, #mwc-barcelona, #mwc-shanghai, #tech

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Global smartphone shipments expected to rebound 11% this year

Like countless other industries, mobile phone sales got hit hard in 2020. The industry hit a 10.5% decline for the year, as Covid-19 first decimated the supply and later consumer demand for devices. It was the latest in a rough couple of years for manufacturers, but 2020 hit significantly harder than most.

New numbers from Gartner point to a rebound to pre-2020 levels. The firm is forecasting 1.5 billion devices shipped globally for 2021, amounting to an 11.4% increase across the board. We certainly saw the beginnings of that rebound arrive in Q4 for last year, as declines continued to slow, thanks in no small part to a record quarter for iPhone sales.

That points to the beginnings of a so-called “supercycle” for Apple, which hits a sort of perfect storm. The last few years have seen consumers slow down upgrades, as device prices increased, features were generally less compelling and their existing devices were perfectly fine so as not to warrant a standard two to three year upgrade pattern.

Analysts pointed to 5G a clear conduit for righting slipping sales numbers early last year, but a global pandemic very much threw a wrench in all of that. If anything, however, the iPhone’s Covid-19 related delay actually contributed to a stellar quarter for the company, both in time for holiday sales and the arrival of multiple vaccines that pointed to some potential return to normalcy.

The long awaited 5G bump will continue in 2021, according to the new numbers, coupled with a quick push to offer next-gen wireless at an accessible price.

“The growing availability of 5G networks coupled with a higher variety of 5G smartphones starting at $200 will steer demand in mature markets and China,” the firm notes. “Demand in emerging countries will be driven by buyers looking for a smartphone with better specifications and a 5G connectivity as an optional feature. Gartner forecasts sales of 5G smartphones will total 539 million units worldwide in 2021, which will represent 35% of total smartphone sales in that year.”

#5g, #apple, #gartner, #hardware, #mobile, #samsung, #smartphones

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Will Apple’s spectacular iPhone 12 sales figures boost the smartphone industry in 2021?

You’d be forgiven for being skeptical about the iPhone 12’s stellar performance this past quarter. It’s been a rough couple of years for smartphones — a phenomenon from which not even Apple was immune.

Frankly, after staring down these macro trends over the last couple of years, it seemed like the days of phone-fueled earnings reports were behind the company as its expanding services portfolio started to become its primary financial driver.

For the final quarter of 2020, Apple earnings surpassed $100 billion — a first.

I capped off my mobile coverage last year with an article titled, “Not even 5G could rescue smartphone sales in 2020.” Among the figures cited were two year-over-year drops of 20% for the first two quarters, followed by a global decline of 5.7% for Q3. As we noted at the time, a mere 5.7% drop constituted good news in 2020.

The straightforward premise of the piece was that COVID-19 subverted industry expectations that 5G would finally reverse declining smartphone sales, even if only temporarily. That all came with the important caveat that Apple’s numbers would likely have a big impact the following quarter.

Ahead of yesterday’s earnings, Morgan Stanley noted, “In our view, the iPhone 12 has been Apple’s most successful product launch in the last five years.” Such a sentiment may have seemed like hyperbole in the lead-up to the news, but in hindsight, it’s hard to argue, with five years having passed since the launch of the first Apple Watch.

The iPhone X was more of a radical departure for the company, but the 12 is proving to be a massive hit. The recent launch of Apple Silicon Macs juiced sales in that product category rising 21% year over year, but ultimately the company’s computer business is a drop in the bucket compared to phone sales.

#5g, #apple, #ec-hardware, #ec-news-analysis, #hardware, #ios, #iphone, #mobile-phones, #samsung-electronics, #smartphone, #wearables

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Known for 5G mmWave testing solutions, Taiwan’s TMYTEK sets its sights on base stations

TMYTEK recently raised a Series A+ round of about $10 million for products that make it easier to test 5G millimeter wave equipment. So far, the company’s clients include KDDI, NTT DoCoMo and research institutions. But the Taiwanese startup has aspirations to sell its own base stations, too, competing with well-established players like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and Huawei. TMYTEK plans to use its expertise, gleaned from helping other researchers develop 5G infrastructure, to create what its chief executive officer describes as a “complete 5G industrial chain.”

Its latest funding round was led by TMYTEK’s manufacturing partner Inventec, one of the largest OEMs in Taiwan, and brings the startup’s total funding so far to $13.3 million. Other investors included Taisic Materials, ITEQ, Tamagawa Electronics, and Taiwan’s National Development Fund. TMYTEK also recently took part in SparkLabs Taipei’s accelerator program.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Su-Wei Chang told TechCrunch that it plans to raise a Series B next to develop and commercialize its base stations. To get ready for its base station business, TMYTEK recently joined the O-RAN Alliance, founded by some of the world’s biggest telecoms to create more interoperable mobile networks, in a bid to encourage the development of new technology and faster deployment.

Chang said TMYTEK’s base in Taiwan gives it a strategic advantage. 5G manufacturing is an important part of Taiwan’s economy, with exports reaching record highs during the second half of 2020, thanks in part to demand for 5G-related equipment and technology for smartphones, autonomous vehicles and smart devices.

Chang studied at University of Massachusetts Amherst and when TMYTEK was founded six years ago, he was often asked why he didn’t stay in the United States, where it would have been easier to secure startup funding. But being in Taiwan puts the company closer to many important markets, including Japan, where 30% of its current business comes from, and gives TMYTEK a good foundation to expand into the U.S. and European market, he said.

It has also given the company a supply chain advantage. TMYTEK has manufacturing partners across Asia, including Inventec in Taiwan, and factories in Vietnam and Thailand, in addition to China. Chang said this means TMYTEK was not limited by the COVID-19 pandemic or the U.S-China trade war.

Before launching TMYTEK in 2014, Chang and co-founder Ethan Lin both worked at Academia Sinica, one of the top research institutions in Taiwan, where they focused on millimeter waves even though at the time most researchers were more interested in the mid-band spectrum.

But as more devices and applications began to crowd the 4G spectrum, mmWave became less niche. With Qualcomm’s launch of next-generation 5G mmWave hardware and chips, and more carriers launching mmWave coverage, mmWave is poised to become mainstream.

Millimeter waves offer powerful signals with wide bandwidth and low latency, but drawbacks include difficulty traveling through obstacles like buildings. It also has a limited range, which is why millimeter waves need more base stations. Beamforming, which directs signals toward a specific device, and antenna array, or multiple antennas that work like a single antenna, are used to extend its coverage.

Making mmWave development faster

One of the main challenges for the millimeter wave market, however, is the lack of R&D tools to speed up their development and time to market, resulting in higher costs and slower deployment.

To keep up with market opportunities, TMYTEK transitioned from design and manufacturing projects for clients to offering 5G-focused solutions like the BBox, which stands for “beamforming box.” The BBox was created after a professor at National Taiwan University told Chang that his team was working on antenna design, but didn’t have the resources to work on beamforming technology, too. It lets researchers create 16 beams and control the signal’s amplitude and phase with software, so they can test how it works with antennas and other hardware more quickly. TMYTEK claims the BBox can save researchers and engineers up to 80% in time and cost.

Chang said TMYTEK realized that if researchers at NTU, one of Taiwan’s largest research universities, needed a solution, then other labs did, too. So far, it has delivered 30 sets to companies including KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, several Fortune 500 companies and research institutions.

While the BBox was created for antenna designers, the company also began exploring solutions to help other designers, including algorithm developers who want to test beam tracking, communicate with base stations and collect data.

TMYTEK vice president Ethan Lin holds the antenna-in-package for its XBeam millimeter wave testing solution

TMYTEK vice president Ethan Lin holds the antenna-in-package for its XBeam millimeter wave testing solution

For that scenario, TMYTEK created the XBeam, which is describes as a “total solution,” and is meant for the mass production phase, testing modules, smartphones and base stations before they are shipped. Traditional solutions to test modules rely on mechanical rotators, but Chang said this is more suited to the research and development process. The XBeam, which is based on the BBox, electronically scans beams instead. The company claims the XBeam is up to 20 times faster than other testing solutions.

TMYTEK created the XBeam’s prototype in 2019 and launched the commercialized version in November 2020.

The BBox and XBeam will help TMYTEK build its own base station business in two ways, Chang said. First, having its own solutions will allow TMYTEK to test base stations and bring them to market faster. Second, the startup hopes building a reputation on effective research and development tools will help it market its base stations to private and public networks. This is especially important to TMYTEK’s ambitions since their base stations will be up against products from major players like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and Huawei.

“Our advantage at TMYTEK is that we’re doing the design and we have good partners for manufacturing. Inventec, our investor, is a top five manufacturer in Taiwan,” he said. “And TMYTEK also builds our own testing solution, so our value is that we can provide a total solution to our customers.”

#5g, #5g-testing, #asia, #base-station, #fundings-exits, #millimeter-wave, #mmwave, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #tmytek

0

Not even 5G could rescue smartphone sales in 2020

This was going to be the year of 5G. It was going to be the year the next-generation wireless technology helped reverse some troubling macro trends for the industry — or at the very least helped stem the bleeding some.

But the best laid plans, and all that. With about a week left in the year, I think it’s pretty safe to say that 2020 didn’t wind up the way the vast majority of us had hoped. It’s a list that certainly includes the lion’s share of smartphone makers. Look no further than a recent report published by Gartner to answer the question of just how bad 2020 was for smartphone sales.

It was so bad that a 5.7% global decline year-over-year for the third quarter constituted good news. In a normal year, that wouldn’t qualify as good news for too many industries outside of wax cylinder and asbestos sales. But there are few standards by which 2020 was a normal year, so now we’ll take some respite in the fact that a 5.7% drop was a considerably less pronounced drop than the ~20% we saw in Qs 1 and 2.

Some context before we get into the whys here. A thing that’s important to note up front is that mobile wasn’t one of those industries where everything was smooth sailing before everything got upended by a pandemic. In 2019 I wrote a not insignificant number of stories with headlines like “Smartphone sales expected to drop 2.5% globally this year” and “Smartphone sales declined again in Q2, surprising no one.” And even those stories were a continuation of trends from a year prior.

The reasons for the decline should be pretty familiar by now. For one thing, premium handsets got expensive, routinely topping out over $1,000. Related to that, phones have gotten good. Good news for consumers doesn’t necessarily translate to good news for manufacturers here, as upgrade cycles have slowed significantly from their traditional every two years (also an artifact of the carrier subscription model). Couple that with economic hardships, and you’ve got a recipe for slowed growth.

This March, I wrote an article titled “5G devices were less than 1% of US smartphone purchases in 2019.” There was, perhaps, a certain level of cognitive dissonance there, after many years of 5G hype. There are myriad factors at play here. First, there just weren’t a ton of different 5G models available in the States by year’s end. Second, network rollout was far from complete. And, of course, there was no 5G iPhone.

I concluded that piece by noting:

Of course, it remains to be seen how COVID-19 will impact sales. It seems safe to assume that, like every aspect of our lives, there will be a notable impact on the number of people buying expensive smartphones. Certainly things like smartphone purchases tend to lessen in importance in the face of something like a global pandemic.

In hindsight, the answer is “a lot.” I’ll be the first to admit that when I wrote those words on March 12, I had absolutely no notion of how bad it was about to get and how long it would last (hello month nine of lockdown). In the earliest days, the big issue globally was on the supply side. Asia (China specifically) was the first place to get hit and the epicenter of manufacturing buckled accordingly. Both China and its manufacturing were remarkably fast to get back online.

In the intervening months, demand has taken a massive hit. Once again, there are a number of reasons for this. For starters, people aren’t leaving their homes as much — and for that reason, the money they’ve allotted to electronics purchases has gone toward things like PCs, as they’ve shifted to a remote work set-up. The other big issue here is simple economics. So many people are out of work and so much has become uncertain that smartphones have once again been elevated to a kind of luxury status.

There are, however, reasons to be hopeful. It seems likely that 5G will eventually help right things — though it’s hard to say when. Likely much of that depends on how soon we’re able to return to “normal” in 2021. But for now, there’s some positive to be seen in early iPhone sales. After Apple went all in on 5G this year, the new handset (perhaps unsurprisingly) topped sales for all other 5G handsets for the month of October, according to analysts.

The company will offer a more complete picture (including the ever-important holiday sales) as part of its earnings report next month. For now, at least, it seems that thing are finally heading in the right direction. That trend will, hopefully, continue as the new year sees a number of Android launches.

Perhaps 2021 will be the year of 5G — because 2020 sure wasn’t.

#5g, #iphone, #mobile, #smartphone-sales

0

Apple is full-steam ahead on replacing Qualcomm modems with its own

A blue iPhone 12 lying flat on a table

Enlarge / The iPhone 12. (credit: Samuel Axon)

As rumored many months ago, Apple’s silicon ambitions don’t end with replacing Intel CPUs with its own in Macs—it plans to ditch Qualcomm modems in favor of its own custom-designed chips for iPhones, according to Apple hardware tech lead Johny Srouji.

Srouji confirmed the company’s plans when speaking to employees during an internal town hall meeting, as reported by Bloomberg today. Apple acquired Intel’s 5G smartphone modem business last summer. That acquisition of Intel’s intellectual property and resources was key for Apple’s new efforts.

Quoted in the Bloomberg story, Srouji told Apple employees:

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #apple, #bloomberg, #intel, #iphone, #johny-srouji, #modems, #qualcomm, #san-diego, #tech, #wireless

0

UK shrinks timetable for telcos to stop installing 5G kit from Huawei

The UK government has squeezed the timetable for domestic telcos to stop installing 5G kit from Chinese suppliers, per the BBC, which reports that the deadline for installation of kit from so-called ‘high risk’ vendors is now September.

It had already announced a ban on telcos buying kit from Huawei et al by the end of this year — acting on national security concerns attached to companies that fall under the jurisdiction of Chinese state surveillance laws. But, according to the BBC, ministers are concerned carriers could stockpile kit for near-term installation to create an optional buffer for themselves since it has allowed until 2027 for them to remove such kit from existing 5G networks. Maintaining already installed equipment will also still be allowed up til then.

A Telecommunications Security Bill which will allow the government to identify kit as a national security risk and ban its use in domestic networks is slated to be introduced to parliament tomorrow.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC he’s pushing for the “complete removal of high-risk vendors”.

In July the government said changes to the US sanction regime meant it could no longer manage the security risk attached to Chinese kit makers.

The move represented a major U-turn from the policy position announced in January — when the UK said it would allowed Chinese vendors to play a limited role in supplying domestic networks. However the plan faced vocal opposition from the government’s own back benches, as well as high profile pressure from the US — which has pushed allies to expel Huawei entirely.

Alongside policies to restrict the use of high risk 5G vendors the UK has said it will take steps to encourage newcomers to enter the market to tackle concerns that the resulting lack of suppliers introduces another security risk.

Publishing a supply chain diversification strategy for 5G today, Dowden warns that barring “high risk” vendors leaves the country “overly reliant on too few suppliers”.

“This 5G Diversification Strategy is a clear and ambitious plan to grow our telecoms supply chain while ensuring it is resilient to future trends and threats,” he writes. “It has three core strands: supporting incumbent suppliers; attracting new suppliers into the UK market; and accelerating the development and deployment of open-interface solutions.”

The government is putting an initial £250 million behind the 5G diversification plan to try to build momentum for increasing competition and interoperability.

“Achieving this long term vision depends on removing the barriers that prevent new market entrants from joining the supply chain, investing in R&D to support the accelerated development and deployment of interoperable deployment models, and international collaboration and policy coordination between national governments and industry,” it writes.

In the short to medium term the government says it will proritize support for existing suppliers — so the likely near term beneficiary of the strategy is Finland’s Nokia.

Though the government also says it will “seek to attract new suppliers to the UK market in order to start the process of diversification as soon as possible”.

“As part of our approach we will prioritise opportunities to build UK capability in key areas of the supply chain,” it writes, adding: “As we progress this activity we look forward to working with network operators in the UK, telecoms suppliers and international governments to achieve our shared goals of a more competitive and vibrant telecoms supply market.”

We’ve reached out to Huawei for comment on the new deadline for UK carriers to stop installing its 5G kit.

The company has continued to reject security concerns attached to its business.

#5g, #china, #europe, #huawei, #mobile, #national-security, #oliver-dowden, #policy, #security, #uk

0

Verizon partners with Apple to launch 5G Fleet Swap

Apple and Verizon today announced a new partnership that will make it easier for their business partners to go all-in on 5G. Fleet Swap, as the program is called, allows businesses to trade in their entire fleet of smartphones — no matter whether they are currently a Verizon customer or not — and move to the iPhone 12 with no upfront cost and either zero cost (for the iPhone 12 mini) or a low monthly cost.

(Disclaimer: Verizon is TechCrunch’s corporate parent. The company has zero input into our editorial decisions.)

In addition, Verizon also today announced its first two major indoor 5G ultra wideband services for its enterprise customers. General Motors and Honeywell are the first customers here, with General Motors enabling the technology at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, the company’s all-electric vehicle plant. To some degree, this goes to show how carriers are positioning 5G ultra wideband as more of an enterprise feature than the lower-bandwidth versions of 5G.

“I think about how 5G [ultra wide band] is really filling a need for capacity and for capability. It’s built for industrial commercial use cases. It’s built on millimeter wave spectrum and it’s really built for enterprise,” Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin told me.

It’s important to note that these two projects are not private 5G networks. Verizon is also in that business and plans to launch those more broadly in the future.

“No matter where you are on your digital transformation journey, the ability to put the power of 5G Ultra Wideband in all of your employees’ hands right now with a powerful iPhone 12 model, the best smartphone for business, is not just an investment for growth, it’s what will set a business’s future trajectory as technology continues to advance,” Erwin said in today’s announcement.

As for 5G Fleet Swap, the idea here is obviously to get more businesses on Verizon’s 5G network and, for Apple, to quickly get more iPhone 12s into the enterprise. Apple clearly believes that 5G can provide some benefits to enterprises — and maybe more so than to consumers — thanks to its low latency for AR applications, for example.

“The iPhone 12 lineup is the best for business, with an all-new design, advanced 5G experience, industry-leading security and A14 Bionic, the fastest chip ever in a smartphone,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps and Services. “Paired with Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband going indoors and 5G Fleet Swap, an all-new device offer for enterprise, it’s now easier than ever for businesses to build transformational mobile apps that take advantage of the powerful iPhone 12 lineup and 5G.”

In addition, the company is highlighting the iPhone’s secure enclave as a major security benefit for enterprises. And while other handset manufacturers launch devices that are specifically meant to be rugged, Apple argues that its devices are already rugged enough by design and that there’s a big third-party ecosystem to ruggedize its devices.

#5g, #5g-network, #apple, #detroit, #general-motors, #hardware, #honeywell, #internet-of-things, #iphone, #mobile, #mobile-phones, #smartphone, #smartphones, #susan-prescott, #tc, #telecommunications, #ultra-wideband, #verizon, #verizon-communications, #verizon-media, #verizon-media-group

0

BMW announces the iX, its next-gen electric flagship

At its (virtual) NextGen 2020 event, BMW today announced that the BMW iX, its new all-electric flagship previously known as the iNext, will launch at the end of 2021. Based on BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, the iX will get a new look — and new kidney grille design — but its dimensions will be similar to the existing X5 or X6 SUVs. The company promises about 300 miles of range and 0-60 mph times of just under five seconds.

BMW has not released any pricing for the iX yet. Rumors earlier this year pegged it at close to $100,000.

The company says it will have more than a million electrified cars on roads by the end of 2021. Right now, about 13% of all BMW and MINI models registered in Europe are either all-electric or plug-in hybrids, and the expectation is that by 2030, that number will increase to 50%.

Image Credits: BMW

Coming next year, that lineup will include a number of new additions to the company’s electrified fleet, but the iX is clearly the focus here, though the next-generation eDrive system will also feature in the 2021 i4, for example, and BMW is experimenting with a 5-Series model that features three of these new motors for a maximum power output of 720 hp (we’re still talking about a company that made its name by combining performance and luxury, after all).

Image Credits: BMW

With DC fast charging at up to 200 kW, the iX should be able to charge from 10 to 80% in about 40 minutes. A 10-minute top-off at a fast-charging station should be enough for about 75 miles. For the most part, that’s in line with comparable electric cars, though Tesla’s V3 Supercharging promises somewhat faster recharge times and others can charge at more than 200 kW.

In addition to being BMW’s electric flagship, the iNext/iX unsurprisingly also showcases the company’s latest technology innovations. That’s obviously no surprise, given that BMW has used various iterations of its iNext concept car to think about how to best integrate new technologies into its next-generation of vehicles.

Image Credits: BMW

For the iX, these include all the standard driver assistance systems you’d expect today (though details there are scarce), a head-up display and large screens with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch control display. But what’s maybe even more interesting here is the company’s over philosophy which the company describes as “shy tech.”

“Shy tech refers to technology that remains largely in the background and only reveals its functions when they are being used,” the company says in today’s announcement. “On entry into the car, the function in question is the electrically powered door locks. The interior welcomes the occupants of all five seats with a luxurious lounge-style ambience, and provides the space required to explore new ways of using time spent inside the car.”

For the most part, the user interface also strips away all distractions to allow the driver to focus on the road.

Image Credits: BMW

It’s no secret that BMW would like to — at some point — allow drivers to lounge in their self-driving cars. BMW hasn’t talked about the car’s driver assistant features yet, so that future hasn’t quite arrived just yet, but the company argues that by leaving out the usual center tunnel, it can provide a more “airy and specious feel” that “accentuates the lounge-style ambience and long-distance comfort provided by the interior.”

Image Credits: BMW

In many ways, the iX is the current apotheosis of BMW’s electric ambitions, and it is worth noting that, unlike others, the company is keeping a lot of the development in-house. That includes its Dingolfing plant, but as the company noted today, it is also developing its own battery cells and a new pilot plant for building its batteries near Munich should open in 2022. “This pilot plant will make BMW the first carmaker to cover the entire process chain for electric driving in-house,” BMW argues.

Image Credits: BMW

This wouldn’t be a major tech launch if it didn’t also feature a 5G aspect and indeed, the iX will feature built-in 5G connectivity, which should make it among the first — if not the first — 5G-enabled production car. Ideally, that means higher bandwidth and lower latency when the car needs to connect to the BMW cloud. But as we’ve all learned from recent phone launches, 5G is currently more of a buzzword than game-changing technology. What’s maybe more important here is that it may enable new C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle to Everything) solutions that will allow vehicles to communicate with each other and nearby smartphones — even without a mobile network.

Image Credits: BMW

#5g, #automotive, #bmw, #bmw-i, #cars, #driver, #electric-car, #electric-vehicles, #europe, #tc, #tesla

0

Qualcomm Ventures invests in four 5G startups

Qualcomm Ventures, Qualcomm’s investment arm, today announced four new strategic investments in 5G-related startups. These companies are private mobile network specialist Celona, mobile network automation platform Cellwize, the edge computing platform Azion and Pensando, another edge computing platform that combines its software stack with custom hardware.

The overall goal here is obviously to help jumpstart 5G use cases in the enterprise and — by extension — for consumers by investing in a wide range of companies that can build the necessary infrastructure to enable these.

“We invest globally in the wireless mobile ecosystem, with a goal of expanding our base of customers and partners — and one of the areas we’re particularly excited about is the area of 5G,” Quinn Li, a Senior VP at Qualcomm and the global head of Qualcomm Ventures, told me. “Within 5G, there are three buckets of areas we look to invest in: one is in use cases, second is in network transformation, third is applying 5G technology in enterprises.”

So far, Qualcomm Ventures has invested over $170 million in the 5G ecosystem, including this new batch. The firm did not disclose how much it invested in these four new startups, though.

Overall, this new set of companies touches upon the core areas Qualcomm Ventures is looking at, Li explained. Celona, for example, aims to make it as easy for enterprises to deploy private cellular infrastructure as it is to deploy Wi-Fi today.

“They built this platform with a cloud-based controller that leverages the available spectrum — CBRS — to be able to take the cellular technology, whether it’s LTE or 5G, into enterprises,” Li explained. “And then these enterprise use cases could be in manufacturing settings could be in schools, could be to be in hospitals, or it could be on campus for universities.”

Cellwize, meanwhile, helps automate wireless networks to make them more flexible and manageable, in part by using machine learning to tune the network based on the data it collects. One of the main investment theses for this fund, Li told me, is that wireless technology will become increasingly software-defined and Cellwize fits right into this trend. The potential customer here isn’t necessarily an individual enterprise, though, but wireless and mobile operators.

Edge computing, where Azion and Pensando play, is obviously also a hot category right now and when where 5G has some obvious advantages, so it’s maybe no surprise that Qualcomm Ventures is putting a bit of a focus on these today with its investments in Azion and Pensando.

“As we move forward, [you will] see a lot of the compute moving from the cloud into the edge of the network, which allows for processing happening at the edge of the network, which allows for low latency applications to run much faster and much more efficiently,” Li said.

In total, Qualcomm Ventures has deployed $1.5 billion and made 360 investments since its launch in 2000. Some of the more successful companies the firm has invested in include unicorns like Zoom, Cloudflare, Xiaomi, Cruise Automation and Fitbit.

#5g, #computing, #enterprise, #internet-of-things, #machine-learning, #mobile-technology, #qualcomm, #qualcomm-ventures, #quinn-li, #recent-funding, #startups, #telecommunications, #wireless, #wireless-networks, #wireless-technology

0

Cellwize raises $32M to help carriers and their partners adopt and run 5G services

As 5G slowly moves from being a theoretical to an active part of the coverage map for the mobile industry — if not for consumers themselves — companies that are helping carriers make the migration less painful and less costly are seeing a boost of attention.

In the latest development, Cellwize, a startup that’s built a platform to automate and optimize data for carriers to run 5G networks within multi-vendor environments, has raised $32 million — funding that it will use to continue expanding its business into more geographies and investing in R&D to bring more capabilities to its flagship CHIME platform.

The funding is notable because of the list of strategic companies doing the investing, as well as because of the amount of traction that Cellwize has had to date.

The Series B round is being co-led Intel Capital and Qualcomm Ventures LLC, and Verizon Ventures (which is part of Verizon, which also owns TechCrunch by way of Verizon Media) and Samsung Next, with existing shareholders also participating. That list includes Deutsche Telekom and Sonae, a Portuguese conglomerate that owns multiple brands in retail, financial services, telecoms and more.

That backing underscores Cellwize’s growth. The company — which is based in Israel with operations also in Dallas and Singapore — says it currently provides services to some 40 carriers (including Verizon, Telefonica and more), covering 16 countries, 3 million cell sites, and 800 million subscribers.

Cellwize is not disclosing its valuation but it has raised $56.5 million from investors to date.

5G holds a lot of promise for carriers, their vendors, handset makers and others in the mobile ecosystem: the belief is that faster and more efficient speeds for wireless data will unlock a new wave of services and usage and revenues from services for consumers and business, covering not just people but IoT networks, too.

Notwithstanding the concerns some have had with health risks, despite much of that theory being debunked over the years, one of the technical issues with 5G has been implementing it.

Migrating can be costly and laborious, not least because carriers will likely be running hybrid systems in the Radio Access Network (RAN, which controls how devices interface with carriers’ networks), where they will be managing legacy networks (eg, 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE) alongside 5G, and working with multiple vendors within 5G itself.

Cellwize positions its CHIME platform — which works as an all-in-one tool that covers configuring new 5G networks, optimizing and monitoring data on them, and also providing APIs for third-party developers to integrate with it — as the bridge to letting carriers operate in the more open-shop approach that is afforded by the move to 5G.

“While large companies have traditionally been more dominant in the RAN market, 5G is changing the landscape for how the entire mobile industry operates,” said Ofir Zemer, Cellwize’s CEO. “These traditional vendors usually offer solutions which plug into their own equipment, while not allowing third parties to connect, and this creates a closed and limited ecosystem. [But] the large operators also are not interested in being tied to one vendor: not technology-wise and not on the business side – as they identify this as an inhibitor to their own innovation.”

Cellwize provides an open platform that allows a carrier to plan, deploy and manage the RAN in that kind of multi-vendor ecosystem. “We have seen an extremely high demand for our solution and as 5G rollouts continue to increase globally, we expect the demand for our product will only continue to grow,” he added.

Previously, Zemer said that carriers would build their own products internally to manage data in the RAN, but these “struggle to support 5G.”

The competition element is not just lip service: the fact that both Intel and Qualcomm — competitors in key respects — are investing in this round underscores how Cellwize sees itself as a kind of Switzerland in mobile architecture. It also underscores that both view easy and deep integrations with its tech as something worth backing, given the priorities of each of their carrier customers.

“Over the last decade, Intel technologies have been instrumental in enabling the communications industry to transform networks with an agile and scalable infrastructure,” said David Flanagan, VP and senior MD at Intel Capital, in a statement. “With the challenges in managing the high complexity of radio access networks, we are encouraged by the opportunity in front of Cellwize to explore ways to utilize their AI-based automation capabilities as Intel brings the benefits of cloud architectures to service provider and private networks.”

“Qualcomm is at the forefront of 5G expansion, creating a robust ecosystem of technologies that will usher in the new era of connectivity,” added Merav Weinryb, Senior Director of Qualcomm Israel Ltd. and MD of Qualcomm Ventures Israel and Europe. “As a leader in RAN automation and orchestration, Cellwize plays an important role in 5G deployment. We are excited to support Cellwize through the Qualcomm Ventures’ 5G global ecosystem fund as they scale and expedite 5G adoption worldwide.”

And that is the key point. Right now there are precious few 5G deployments, and sometimes, when you read some the less shiny reports of 5G rollouts, you might be forgiven for feeling like it’s more marketing than reality at this point. But Zemer — who is not a co-founder (both of them have left the company) but has been with it since 2013, almost from the start — is sitting in on the meetings with carriers, and he believes that it won’t be long before all that tips.

“Within the next five years, approximately 75% of mobile connections will be powered by 5G, and 2.6 billion 5G mobile subscriptions will be serving 65% of the world’s population,” he said. “While 5G technology holds a tremendous amount of promise, the reality is that it is also hyper-complex, comprised of multiple technologies, architectures, bands, layers, and RAN/vRAN players. We are working with network operators around the world to help them overcome the challenges of rolling out and managing these next generation networks, by automating their entire RAN processes, allowing them to successfully deliver 5G to their customers.”

#5g, #carriers, #cellwize, #enterprise, #europe, #funding, #telecoms

0

A better look at Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone Mini

The various iterations of the new iPhone were announced 800 million years ago. Actually, wait, I just double checked — it was only about two or so weeks ago, but it turns out that time has no meaning anymore. Another cursory glance at my calendar tells me that, while the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro were released in late-October, not long after being announced, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone Mini, meanwhile, won’t be available for sale for another week or so.

You can check out Matthew’s substantial review of those middle of the line devices here. And while we wait for the low and high end of the line to arrive, I spent a little time with the devices and snapped a couple of photos with the products, which you can check out below.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Again, we can talk more in-depth write-ups at some point in the future, likely, but for now a smattering of thoughts and images. Consider this a kind of make up for the sorts of hands-ons with products we used to do at Apple’s in-person events, back in the before times, when Apple had in-person events.

All of the four sizes were present and accounted for. As someone who’s been testing a fair number of large Android devices in recent months, the 6.7-inch Pro Max doesn’t appear exceptionally large. As you can see in that top photo, however, the difference between it and the Mini is pretty pronounced.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

It’s amazing how quickly our perceptions of screen sizes have shifted over the years, that a handset sporting a screen two inches larger than the original iPhone is now considered “mini” by a fairly considerable margin. Heck, even the 6-inch Pixel 5 I’ve been using off and on feels pretty small by today’s standards.

The standard iPhone 12 and 12 Pro’s 6.1-inch display seem like a pretty good sweet spot for many or most users. Many of the key specs are surprisingly consistent, given the $400 price difference between the high and low end. All sport 5G connectivity, the new magnetic MagSafe connector, OLED displays and an A14 chip.

Beyond size, storage and battery capacity, the big differentiator are the cameras. No huge surprise there, as that continues to be where most smartphone manufacturers are making their biggest strides. Here’s a chart we made to break down those distinctions:

The iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini hit retail November 13.

#5g, #apple, #hardware, #iphone, #iphone-12, #mobile

0

Q3 earnings find Apple and Google looking to the future for hardware rebounds

“5G is a once-in-a-decade kind of opportunity,” Tim Cook told the media during the Q&A portion of Apple’s Q3 earnings call. “And we could not be more excited to hit the market exactly when we did.”

The truth of the matter is its timing was a mixed bag. Apple was, by some accounts, late to 5G. By the time the company finally announced that it was adding the technology across its lineup of iPhone 12 variants, much of its competition had already beat the company to the punch. Of course, that’s not a huge surprise. Apple’s strategy is rarely a rush to be first.

5G networks are only really starting to come into their own now. Even today, there are still wide swaths of users who will have to default to an LTE connection the majority of the time they use their handsets. The arrival of 5G on the iPhone was really as much about future-proofing this year’s models as anything. Consumers are holding onto phones longer, and in the three or four years before it’s time for another upgrade, the 5G maps will look very different.

Clearly, the new iPhone didn’t hit the market exactly when Apple had hoped; the pandemic saw to that. Manufacturing bottlenecks in Asia delayed the iPhone 12’s launch by a month. That’s going to have an impact on the bottom line of your quarterly earnings. The company saw a 20% drop for the quarter, year-over-year. That’s hugely significant, causing the company’s stock to drop more than 4% in extended trading.

Apple’s diverse portfolio helped curb some of those revenue slides. While the pandemic has generally had a profound impact on consumer spending on “non-essentials,” changing where and how we work has helped bolster Mac and iPad sales, which were up 28 and 46% respectively, year-over-year. It wasn’t enough to completely stop the iPhone stumble, but it certainly brings the importance of a diverse hardware portfolio into sharp relief.

China was a big issue for the company this time around — and the lack of a new, 5G-enabled iPhone was a big contributor. In greater China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong), the company saw a 28% drop in sales. There are a number of reasons to be hopeful about iPhone sales in Q4, however.

As I noted this morning, smartphone shipments were down almost across the board in China for Q3, per new figures from Canalys. Much of that can be chalked up to Huawei’s ongoing issues with the U.S. government. Long the dominant manufacturer in mainland China, the company has been hamstrung by, among other things, a ban on access to Android and other U.S.-made technologies. Apple’s numbers remained relatively steady compared to the competition and Huawei’s issues could present a big hole in the market. With 5G on its side, this next quarter could prove a banner year for the company.

#5g, #alphabet, #amazon, #apple, #earnings, #google, #hardware, #iphone, #mobile, #pixel

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Current and upcoming trends in Latin America’s mobile growth

Latin America (LATAM) is home to one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. In 2018, there were 326 million mobile internet users in the region, and that figure is anticipated to increase to over 422 million users by 2025. Part of the reason for such exponential growth is that mobile is the main tool for internet access in Latin America, providing a portable way for people living in rural areas to get online. The social media boom and rise in messaging platforms in recent years have also spurred demand for optimized mobile services.

As mobile penetration continues in LATAM, it is facilitating innovative apps that promote opportunities for social mobility, financial control, access to overseas markets and societal development. And while a difference in maturity levels and local regulations dictates the mobile landscape for individual countries, there are visible trends throughout the region.

These trends are both reactions to LATAM’s unique mobile conditions and broader international influences, so can be telling of future mobile user expectations and behaviors. By recognizing and assimilating these trends, new mobile apps and services can disrupt the market in a more meaningful way.

Here are the current and upcoming trends of mobile growth across Latin America:

Digital wallets

Approximately 70% of Latin America’s population is unbanked or underbanked, meaning there is a huge opportunity to improve financial access. One emerging solution is digital wallets, which work via top-ups and don’t require a bank account with a physical company or branch to set up. Digital wallets, therefore, bypass the mistrust that many Latin Americans have around official banking institutions.

COVID-19 has certainly contributed to the heightened demand for mobile wallets in LATAM. As a predominantly cash-driven location, concerns about handling paper money have been confirmed as new studies reveal that the virus can survive on physical currency for 28 days. In turn, masses of citizens and consumers have begun looking for safer alternatives to cash. In Mexico, digital wallets are thought to occupy a 27.7% share of the business-to-consumer e-commerce payments market by 2021, while Argentina has also been showing high in-store use of digital wallets during the pandemic.

Over in Venezuela, AirTM’s digital wallet has been processing funds promised by interim President Guaidó to essential workers. The company has been instrumental in delivering the money to healthcare staff after the Maduro regime blocked the provider operating in the country. Beyond financial aid, digital wallets in Venezuela and other countries with high inflation rates mean locals don’t have to carry large amounts of bills and coins with them.

#5g, #banking, #column, #ecommerce, #latin-america, #mobile, #mobile-payments, #payments, #tc

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TCL announces a $400 5G handset

What’s most remarkable about the push for 5G is how quickly the prices came down on handsets sporting the next-gen wireless technology. The push toward affordable 5G devices is clearly as much an indicator as the current state of the smartphone space as anything — people just aren’t upgrading devices as quickly as the used to. And even more to the point, they’re reluctant to pay $1,000 when they do.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G has been a piece of that puzzle. And unsurprisingly, the mid-tier chip in found in TCL’s new $400 5G handset. Of course, TCL is positioning it as “under-$400” with that $399.99 price tag, which is technically correct — the best kind of correct.

It’s also not really right to say that the TCL 10 5G UW’s a”premium blend of performance, power, stylish design and 5G connectivity that until now has only been available on more expensive flagship smartphones.” Affordable 5G handsets isn’t an entirely new phenomenon — nor are affordable 5G handsets with decent specs and design. But even so, the price point is still notable at this stage in the 5G upgrade cycle — which, frankly, is why we’re writing about it here.

The price/5G combo is the main thing to like here, coming in at even less than, say, the OnePlus Nord, a recent high water mark in the 5G/price point combo. And there are a few other things that should appeal to potential buyers, as well, including a 4,500mAh battery coupled with reverse charging for other devices. There are three rear-facing cameras: a 48-megapixel main, an eight-megapixel ultra wide and a five-megapixel macro, the latter of of which is starting to appear on more phones.

It arrives October 29, and is, notably, a Verizon (TechCrunch’s parent company) exclusive here in the U.S., using the carrier’s mmWave technology.

 

#5g, #hardware, #mobile, #tcl, #verizon

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Verizon forced to pull ad that claimed firefighters need Verizon 5G

A firefighter at the scene of a wildfire.

Enlarge / A firefighter battling the Mendocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California. (credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan )

Verizon’s 2018 controversy over its throttling of a fire department’s “unlimited” data plan during a wildfire didn’t stop the carrier from rolling out numerous ads claiming that Verizon service is a must-have for firefighters and other emergency responders. But a couple of those ads apparently went too far, and Verizon agreed to stop running them after a complaint that T-Mobile lodged with the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body.

“Verizon committed to permanently discontinue its ‘5G Built Right for Firefighters’ and ‘5G Built Right for First Responders’ advertisements and the challenged claims made therein,” the National Advertising Division (NAD) said today in an announcement of the complaint’s outcome.

The NAD said it didn’t actually review the firefighter and first-responder complaints on their merits because Verizon agreed to pull them before an investigation. But the NAD investigated other T-Mobile claims and recommended that Verizon discontinue or modify several other ads that made unsupported statements. Verizon agreed to comply with the NAD’s findings.

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#5g, #biz-it, #policy, #verizon

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Google keeps it simple with the Pixel 5

I’m going to be totally honest with you. I don’t really understand Google’s phone strategy right now. And for what it’s worth, I’m not really sure Google does either. I wrote about it here, but I’ll save you from having to read an additional 800 words on top of all these. The short version is that Google has three phones on the market, and there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of distinction between them.

The Pixel is a portrait of a hardware division in transition. That applies to a number of aspects, from strategy to the fact that the company recently saw a minor executive exodus. It’s pretty clear the future of Google’s mobile hardware division is going to look quite different from its present — but 2020’s three phones are most likely a holdover from the old guard.

What you’re looking at here is the Pixel 5. It’s Google’s flagship. A device that sports — among other things — more or less the same mid-range Qualcomm processor as the 4a announced earlier this year. It distinguishes itself from that budget handset, however, with the inclusion of 5G. But then here comes the 4a 5G to further muddy the waters.

There are some key distinctions that separate the 5 and 4a 5G, which were announced at the same event. The 5’s got a more solid body, crafted from 100% recycled aluminum to the cheaper unit’s polycarbonate. It also has waterproofing and reverse wireless charging, a fun feature we’ve seen on Samsung devices for a few generations now. Beyond that, however, we run into something that’s been a defining issue since the line’s inception. If you choose not to use hardware to define your devices, it becomes difficult to differentiate your devices’ hardware.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Since the very beginning of the Pixel line, the company has insisted that it will rely on software advances to push the products forward. It’s a nice sentiment after years of feature arms races between the likes of Apple and Samsung. But that means when it comes time to introduce new devices, the results can be fairly lackluster. That certainly applies to the Pixel 5.

From a hardware perspective, it’s not a particularly exciting phone. That’s probably fine for many. Smartphones have, after all, become more commodity than luxury item, and plenty of users are simply looking for one that will just get the job done. That said, Google’s got some pretty stiff competition at the Pixel 5’s price point — and there are plenty of Android devices that can do even more.

There are certainly some upgrades in addition to the above worth pointing out, however. Fittingly, the biggest and most important of all is probably the least exciting. The Pixel 4 was actually a pretty solid device hampered by one really big issue: an abysmal battery life. The 2,800mAh capacity was a pretty massive millstone around the device’s neck. That, thankfully, has been addressed here in a big way.

Google’s bumped things up to 4,080mAh. That’s also a pretty sizable bump over the 4a and 4a 5G, which sport 3,885mAh and 2,130mAh, respectively. That extra life is extra important, given the addition of both Battery Share and 5G. For the sake of disclosure, I should mention that I still live in an area with basically no 5G (three cheers for working from home), so your mileage will vary based on coverage. But using LTE, I was able to get about a day and a half of use out of the handset, besting the stated “all-day battery).

This is helped along by a (relatively) compact display. Gone are the days of the XL (though, confusingly, the 4a 5G does have a larger screen with a bit lower pixel density). The flagship is only available in a six-inch, 2,340 x 1,080 size. It’s larger than the Pixel 4’s 5.7 inches, but at a lower pixel density (432 versus 444 ppl). The 90Hz refresh rate remains. Compared to all of the phones I’ve been testing lately, the Pixel 5 feels downright compact. It’s a refreshing change to be able to use the device with one hand.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The camera is probably the aspect of the handset where the opposing hardware-first and software-first approaches are the most at conflict with one another. Google was fairly convinced it could do everything it wanted with a single lens early on, but eventually begrudgingly gave in to a two-camera setup. The hardware is pretty similar to last year’s model, but the 16-megapixel 2x optical telephoto has been replaced by a 16-megapixel ultra-wide. Whether that represent progress is largely up to your own personal preference. Frankly, I’d prefer a little more non-distorted zooming.

Google, of course, is building on a solid foundation. I really loved the Pixel 4’s photos. The things Google’s imaging team has been able to do with relative hardware constraints is really impressive, and while you’re lacking the scope of a premium Samsung device or high-end iPhone, casual photo snappers are going to be really happy with the shots they get on the Pixel 5.

Night Sight has been improved and now turns on when the phone’s light sensor detects a dark scene. My morning walks have gotten decidedly darker in recent weeks as the season has changed, and the phone automatically enters the mode for those pre-dawn shots (COVID-19 has made me an early riser, I don’t know what to tell you). The feature has also been added to portrait mode for better focused shots.

The Pixel’s Portrait Mode remains one of the favorites — though it’s still imperfect, running into issues with things like hair or complex geometries. It really doesn’t know what to do with a fence much of the time, for instance. The good news is that Google’s packed a lot of editing options into the software here — particularly for Portrait Mode.

You can really go crazy in terms of bokeh levels and placement and portrait lighting, a relatively subtle effect that lends the appearance of changing a light source. Changing the effects can sometimes be a bit laggy, likely owing to the lower-end processing power. All said, it’s a good and well-rounded photo experience, but as usual, I would really love to see what Google’s imaging team would be able to do if the company ever gives it a some real high-end photography hardware to play around with. Wishful thinking for whatever the Pixel 6 becomes, I suppose.

In the end, the two biggest reasons to recommend upgrading from the Pixel 4 are 5G and bigger battery. The latter is certainly a big selling point this time out. The former really depends on what coverage is like in your area. The 5G has improved quite a bit of late, but there are still swaths of the U.S. — and the world — that will be defaulting to LTE on this device. Also note that the $200 cheaper 4a 5G also offers improvements in both respects over last year’s model.

Still, $700 is a pretty reasonable price point for a well-rounded — if unexciting — phone like the Pixel 5. And Google’s got other things working in its favor, as well — pure Android and the promise of guaranteed updates. If you’re looking for something with a bit more flash, however, there are plenty of options in the Android world.

#5g, #android, #google, #google-pixel, #hardware, #mobile, #pixel, #pixel-5, #reviews, #smartphones

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What the iPhone 12 tells us about the state of the smartphone industry in 2020

The smartphone industry was in transition well before COVID-19 was a blip on anyone’s radar. More than 13 years after the launch of the original iPhone, these products have long since transitioned from luxury items to commodities, losing some of their luster in the process. The past several years have seen slower upgrade cycles as consumers grew reluctant to pay $1,000 or more for new devices.

And while the iPhone 12 was no doubt in development long before the current pandemic, the pandemic’s global shutdown has only exacerbated many existing problems for smartphone makers. The clearest representation of Apple’s reaction is in the sheer number of iPhones announced at today’s “Hi Speed” event. Long gone are the days when a company could rest on a single flagship or two.

Today’s event brought a grand total of four new iPhone models, ranging in price from $699 to $1,099: the 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. As with the Apple Watch, the company is keeping last year’s iPhone 11 around and has cut the price to $599. That puts the older model in the high-mid-range for Android devices, but represents a far cheaper entry point than we’re accustomed to for Apple phones.

#5g, #apple, #apple-iphone-event-2020, #artificial-intelligence, #covid-19, #hardware, #iphone, #iphone-12, #mobile

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Verizon “nationwide” 5G ready for iPhone 12—don’t expect a big speed boost

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg speaking on stage in front of a coverage map.

Enlarge / Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg at Apple’s iPhone 12 event. (credit: Apple)

Verizon today announced “nationwide” 5G coverage along with support for the new 5G-enabled iPhones. But for most consumers, Verizon’s 5G upgrade won’t make much of a difference.

The newly enabled 5G runs on the same spectrum bands used by Verizon for 4G, so it won’t be nearly as fast as Verizon’s millimeter-wave version of 5G. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in May that 5G users on the non-millimeter-wave bands will see only a “small” upgrade at first.

“Nationwide” doesn’t mean it’s available everywhere, either. As Verizon said in its announcement today, nationwide means that Verizon 5G “is available today to more than 200 million people in 1,800 cities around the US.” That definition satisfies a standard set by the National Advertising Division, which is the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body. NAD says that, in general, “a wireless network can claim to be nationwide or coast to coast if the provider offers service in diverse regions of the country and the network covers at least 200 million people.”

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#5g, #biz-it, #iphone-12, #tech, #verizon

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Apple’s stock dips and Verizon’s recovers during iPhone event

Earlier today Apple announced a slew of new hardware. In case you’ve not yet caught up, there’s a $99 HomePod Mini coming, new iPhones, a new method for shouting at your electronics, the return of MagSafe, some cost-cutting masquerading as environmentalism and, of course, new flagship phones.

And in a move that caused telecom investors to sit up straight and pay attention, Apple trotted out Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg for part of the presentation — which is why we add our parent company’s parent company to our usual post-Apple-event share price reaction roundup.

Market reaction

Shares of Apple were mixed before the event, managing to work their way back to flat during morning trading ahead of the event. Down before Apple kicked off its iPhone shebang, equity in the phone giant dipped and then rallied as the event got underway.

But the partial erasure of losses were short-lived, and Apple wound up losing ground during the presentation (chart via YCharts, annotations via TechCrunch):

For Apple shareholders then, not a day worth writing home about.

The Apple event appeared to have a more electric impact on my employer. See if you can spot the point at which Verizon appeared as part of the event (chart via YCharts, annotations via TechCrunch):

Now that is the sort of reaction that we hope to see from events of this sort. Why? Because it implies that the company on stage has managed to do something so notable that its share price moved; this is another way of saying that investors were surprised by what they learned.

Apple events tend to leak in advance these days, so perhaps the usual lack of share price movement from the company’s equity is to be expected.

Verizon’s news, in contrast, was more of a surprise. The company “announce[d] its nationwide 5G network” in the words of The Verge. Investors liked that, but later sold the company’s shares back down a bit.

#5g, #apple, #apple-iphone-event-2020, #iphone, #mobile, #tc, #verizon

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Apple announces iPhone 12, now with 5G

Today, Apple announced the iPhone 12 with 5G wireless capability. The phone is an aluminum and glass sandwich that looks a lot like the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch display, but it’s the same size as the iPhone 11, so it’s 15 percent smaller, and 11 percent thinner than last year’s iPhone 11. The screen is an OLED display, and Apple has teamed up with Corning to make a new display cover material called a “Ceramic Sheild.” Apple claims it is tougher than any other smartphone glass.

One of the headlines additions to the new iPhone is the addition of 5G connectivity, which has been hyped up by the carriers as the next big thing in smartphones. The quick primer is that there are two kinds of 5G: a potentially very fast “mmWave” network (Verizon calls this “Ultra Wideband”) that is short range, has poor signal characteristics, and is hard to roll out, and a “sub 6GHz” 5G, which is closer to an iterative step of 4G, with better signal characteristics, and a better shot of a world-wide rollout but with less of a revolutionary speed increase.

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#5g, #apple, #ios, #iphone, #iphone-12, #iphone-12-max, #iphone-12-pro, #iphone-pro-max, #oled, #tech

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Buying Verizon 5G Home is even harder than finding a Verizon mobile 5G signal

A Verizon 5G Home Internet device mounted on the inside of a window, at a home on a residential street.

Enlarge / A Verizon 5G Home router/receiver mounted on a window. (credit: Verizon)

If you’re hoping to get Verizon’s 5G Home Internet service in the near future, you’re probably out of luck—even if you live in one of the few cities where it’s already deployed. More than two years after its unveiling, Verizon 5G Home is for sale in parts of eight cities, with an emphasis on “parts.” PCMag’s Sascha Segan used the 5G home service’s address-lookup tool to find out how prevalent 5G Home is in areas that have Verizon 5G mobile access, and the results were disappointing.

“Since the company doesn’t offer a coverage map for its home service, we pumped more than 400 Chicago and Minneapolis addresses through the Verizon 5G Home address finder and discovered that the home service has even less coverage than the mobile service does,” PCMag wrote in the article published yesterday.

Segan’s PCMag article includes several maps that show a large majority of houses in Verizon’s 5G mobile coverage areas cannot get 5G Home. Verizon 5G mobile has limited reach to begin with because it relies on millimeter-wave frequencies that don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls. The ad industry’s self-regulatory body recently urged Verizon to stop running ads that falsely imply the carrier’s 5G mobile service is available throughout the United States because “Verizon’s 5G coverage is primarily restricted to outdoor locations in certain neighborhoods and varies from block to block.”

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#5g, #5g-home, #biz-it, #policy, #verizon

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Google now has three mid-range Pixel phones

The Pixel has always been a mixed bag. The first-generation product was announced roughly this time four years ago, with Google finally offering a full-throated entry into the smartphone space after years of device partnerships.

Of course, by 2016, the market was already mature — particularly for Android phones. But while it was easy to write off those initial devices as Nexus-like references for future software updates, Google made it clear that it was taking the line seriously. It put any doubts to rest two years later, with its $1.1 billion acquisition of the design team from a struggling HTC.

But Google’s had struggles of its own. Slow Pixel 3 sales left the company in a tough spot, as the overall market took a hit. Google was able to correct the ship with the launch of the Pixel 3a, joining the likes of Apple and Samsung in offering budget versions of its smartphone flagship as consumers grew weary of premium prices.

It’s a strategy that makes sense. Two primary devices: a flagship and a budget model. Of course, the line has never been particularly clear for Google. For one thing, the company just doesn’t chase premium hardware in the same way that Apple, Samsung or Huawei does. Rather, it insists setting itself apart with its software — even for things like imaging. That often results in a less pronounced gap between devices. It also dulls the company’s edge with features that, more often than not, come to other Android devices.

But today’s hardware event blurred those lines more than ever. The dual-launch of the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G was arguably the most confusing element about a morning event with words “Launch Night” in its title.

Image Credits: Google

While pre-show rumors and leaks revealed a lot about the devices that ultimately proved true, they didn’t do much to distinguish the differences between the products. Turns out there’s an obvious reason: There really isn’t that much of a difference. If anything, the 4a 5G feels like a stepping stone toward the Pixel 5 — a device that would, perhaps, more fittingly have been named the Pixel 5a, if the company’s naming conventions worked that way.

We already knew that both devices were going to sport 5G. That seems to be Google taking advantage of Qualcomm’s aggressive push to bring the next-gen wireless technology to more budget devices. Really, the big driver here is that both devices utilize the same processors: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G. It is, as I’m sure you’re aware, a mid-tier processor. It’s a step down from the 865 currently found in the majority of this year’s flagships.

Likely, the decision was a cost-cutting measure, but we’ve seen evidence from a number of manufacturers that it’s possible to produce an 865-sporting device priced in the middle six digits. Both devices also sport the same dual-camera set up on the rear and the same resolution screens — though the 4a 5G’s is actually bigger (albeit with a lower pixel density), at 6.2 inches to the 5’s 6.0.

There are some differences between the products to justify the $200 pricing gap. For starters, the 5 features a 100% recycled aluminum body, whereas the 4a 5G is polycarbonate. The cheaper phone lacks waterproofing and the reverse wireless charging found on the 5. It also sports a smaller battery, though both devices have been upgraded in that respect over the 4 and 4a. Battery life, after all, was the biggest complaint against the Pixel 4 — and either way you’re going to need more milliamp hours to handle the strains of 5G and, in the case of the 5, reverse charging.

So, are you clear on all of this? Me neither, to be honest. Google’s smartphone line now contains three devices. There’s a mid-tier handset, a slightly lower-mid-tier handset and an even lower-mid-tier handset. That’s three distinct devices with about a $300 price difference, all released within months of one another. It’s as if Google saw the 3a’s successes and decided “screw it, we’re making all of our products mid-range.” Affordability isn’t a bad thing, of course, but if you’re going to release three separate products over roughly a two-month span, you owe it to yourself and your fans to offer clearer value propositions.

Some of this is going to self-correct. For starters, it seems likely that the three devices will turn into two by this time next year. I don’t foresee the company keeping both an LTE and 5G model around in late-2021. There’s also the fact that the company has been undergoing a bit of an executive shakeup among the Pixel line — something that appears to point to a dramatic rethink of the line. It’s likely that the 4a, 4a 5G and 5 were already pretty far into development when Google started its executive shuffling.

Hopefully all of this will cause the company to rethink the Pixel line from the ground up and determine what Google can bring to the table that the competition can’t.

#5g, #google, #google-hardware-event-2020, #hardware, #mobile, #pixel, #pixel-4, #pixel-4a, #pixel-5, #smartphones

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