5G takes center stage at MWC 2023
- Singtel has partnered with Microsoft to offer a private preview of Microsoft Azure Public MEC.
- Nokia has secured a ten-year extension to its existing nationwide 5G network deal with Antina Pte. Ltd.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023, the annual trade show and conference for mobile technology professionals, is back in Barcelona, Spain, and 5G is a major topic of discussion. With 5G coverage already widespread in many markets, the industry is entering a new transformation phase. This transformation includes fully automated industries, private cellular networks, early metaverse experiences, and more.
While most carriers will continue to expand 5G mid-band macro coverage, some will focus on densifying 5G radio networks for better performance and capacity. Asia is expected to remain the leader in 5G deployments. China has already raced to extend 5G networks throughout the country, and India will take the lead in 2023 with plans to blanket itself with 5G.
MWC 2023: Singtel partners with Microsoft
Speaking of 5G in Asia, let’s discuss Singtel’s recent announcement at the event. The company has partnered with Microsoft to offer a private preview of Microsoft Azure Public MEC for selected enterprise customers. They have incorporated Azure Public MEC into Singtel’s 5G network and Paragon, an all-in-one platform for 5G networks, edge computing, and services orchestration, to help enterprises take advantage of 5G.
According to Singtel’s CEO of Group Enterprise, Bill Chang, one of the biggest challenges enterprises face in adopting 5G is managing multiple data silos and systems, which makes it difficult for them to innovate and scale quickly in a competitive market.
“By combining Microsoft Azure tools and Singtel’s 5G capabilities with Paragon, we are breaking down these silos of systems and empowering our customers to rapidly build and deploy end-to-end use cases, leveraging low latency 5G connectivity, edge computing, a rich set of applications and Microsoft tools,” Chang added.
Singtel’s Paragon platform will allow enterprise customers to transmit data securely and efficiently from their 5G devices to their Azure Public MEC-hosted applications using network slices that optimize network performance. By linking Paragon with Azure Programmable Connectivity, developers can leverage Singtel’s 5G network’s fast speed, broad bandwidth, hyperconnectivity, and Azure services. This approach enables them to build and oversee new network-aware applications that demand high throughput and low latency in a cost-effective “pay-as-you-go” model.
Use cases involving mobility, such as drones, autonomous vehicles, service robots, and delivery fleets, can benefit from accessing Azure Public MEC in a latency-optimized manner from any location in Singapore. Additionally, this integration will enhance business capabilities in areas such as metaverse-based real-time simulations and live video analytics.
Nokia secures ten-year extension of 5G deal in Singapore
Of course, Nokia is a key player that must be mentioned when discussing 5G technology. Nokia has secured a ten-year extension to its existing nationwide 5G network deal with Antina Pte. Ltd., a joint venture between mobile network operators M1 and StarHub in Singapore, to deploy a 5G Standalone (SA) network for indoor and outdoor coverage.
The deal also involves the expansion of Antina’s 3.5GHz spectrum holdings to improve 5G connectivity for businesses and consumers in Singapore. Nokia will provide AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR) small cell solutions for seamless indoor coverage and equipment from its energy-efficient AirScale portfolio. Antina will use its spectrum in the 2.1 GHz (n1) and 3.5 GHz (n78) bands to deliver high bandwidth, ultra-fast speeds, and low latency.
“Our high-performance networks deliver a premium 5G experience adding coverage and capacity where it is needed in both indoor and outdoor locations,” said Tommi Uitto, the President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Singapore is creating a world-class 5G environment and we are proud to work alongside them in this important project.”
Besides 5G, Nokia revealed an updated company and technological strategy and launched a refreshed brand, as part of its ongoing long-term strategic transformation.
Cisco and NEC collaborate on providing 5G connectivity and automation globally
On the other hand, Cisco and NEC Corporation are collaborating to provide 5G connectivity and automation to networks globally. The companies plan to expand their collaborative efforts to include system integration solutions and explore opportunities in 5G xHaul and private 5G. They aim to help customers transform their architecture and connect more people and things, leveraging their augmented solutions for scalable 5G xHaul transport networks.
With increasing traffic surges and the need for faster time to market with assured quality, they plan to enhance automation and routed optical networking capabilities. NEC will utilize its 5G Transport Centers of Excellence in EMEA and LATAM to overcome the complexity of multi-vendor networks. In addition to transport xHaul networks, the companies plan to work together in IoT, 5G, and Wi-Fi to drive the next wave of industrial transformation.
The companies are also exploring private 5G solutions, with NEC’s UNIVERGE RV 1200 radio being qualified with Cisco’s Private 5G solution at Cisco’s 5G Showcase in Tokyo. This all-in-one radio is designed for the Japanese private 5G market, providing increased flexibility and scalability for installation.
HPE acquires Athonet
Speaking of private 5G, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced the acquisition of Athonet, a private cellular network technology provider to enterprises and communication service providers, as part of the expansion of its connected edge-to-cloud offering. This acquisition, combined with HPE’s telco and Aruba networking portfolios, is expected to position HPE as a leader in the growing market of private 5G, which IDC predicts to reach over US$1.6 billion by 2026.
Private 5G offers high coverage, reliability, and mobility levels across large and remote sites, making it an attractive solution for enterprises facing complex connectivity challenges. Additionally, private 5G can supplement the cost-effective, high-capacity connectivity provided by Wi-Fi. HPE’s incorporation of Athonet’s technology will enable the company to provide private networking capabilities directly to enterprises as part of its Aruba networking portfolio. Furthermore, it will allow communication service providers to quickly deploy private 5G networks for their customers.
Tom Craig, HPE’s Global Vice President and General Manager of the Communications Technology Group, stated that telco customers are seeking simpler ways to deploy private 5G networks to meet customers’ increasing expectations at the connected edge.
“At the same time, enterprise customers are demanding a customized 5G experience with low-latency, segregated resources, extended range and security across campus and industrial environments that complement their existing wireless networks,” Craig added. “With the acquisition of Athonet, HPE now has one of the most complete private 5G and Wi-Fi portfolios for CSP and enterprise customers – and we will offer it as a service through HPE GreenLake.”