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Top 10 telecoms stories of 2022

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 telecoms stories of 2022

As businesses come to grips with the realities of the hybrid-defined post-Covid world of work, telecoms network deployment over the last 12 months has never been so widespread and indeed never so important. Although over the past two years, the market has really been defined by the success of 5G roll-out, this year has seen a new and rather interesting alternative challenger fly by – satellite-based comms services.

The year has ended in a flurry of activity, with a number of leading industrial firms, especially in the automotive sector, getting into gear with private 5G. The last 12 months have seen more and more such implementations. Ports around the globe, especially those in Europe, are now carrying forward the torch of private 5G in the battle to gain dearly needed cost efficiencies and cost effectiveness in operations through the likes of network slicing, supporting digital transformation of industrial processes.

Meanwhile, satellite services gained higher and higher orbits in 2022. The USP of satellite broadband has been taking connectivity to hitherto under-served, and in some cases totally unserved, locations. Its development has not just been through private providers looking to establish new routes to new markets, but has also been assisted by enlightened governments’ regulatory policies seeing the skies fill up with routes to broadband. These constellations will only grow and grow into 2023.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 telecoms stories of 2022:

1. Siemens, Qualcomm collaborate on 5G smart building networks

In a collective effort to further advance digitisation in building automation by developing more intelligent smart devices in the future, Qualcomm Technologies and Siemens Smart Infrastructure are working together to reimagine building automation by applying 5G private network, based on the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System in the Americas.

The joint effort is under way at the Siemens Chicagoland office in Buffalo Grove, testing 5G PN use cases for efficient connection of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) assets that the firms believe will help to meet the growing customer needs around energy efficiency, reduced costs of ownership, increased security and proactive maintenance.

2. Hispasat, Sencinet expand satellite broadband in Mexico

Satellite communications operator Hispasat and multinational solutions and managed services network integrator Sencinet have agreed to extend the agreement through which the two companies offer corporate and governmental connectivity services in Mexico until the end of 2024.

Sencinet operates in the corporate market for medium and large companies and has been designing and delivering communications systems for critical missions in Latin America for decades. Its portfolio of SD-WAN products and services, security, hybrid clouds, satellites and networks is designed to provide a response to corporate security and connectivity challenges.

3. OneWeb spreads satellite connectivity wings into Asia and Africa

Satellite broadband provider OneWeb has announced a major expansion of its footprint in deals with Airtel Africa to bring low-latency low Earth orbit (LEO) connectivity services to government and enterprise customers, and has signed a distribution partnership agreement with satellite service provider Azyan Telecom in the Sultanate of Oman and the Middle East.

The partnership with Airtel Africa builds on OneWeb’s existing initiatives in Africa, including installations of satellite network portals (SNPs) in Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Mauritius. It will focus on delivering satellite communications services to enterprise and civil government customers across selected areas of the continent for a wide range of use cases, including connectivity in rural areas, agriculture, hospitals, hotels, schools, and in the energy and mining sectors.

4. UK government accelerates satellite, fibre gigabit broadband access to remote regions

As the UK’s metropolitan regions worry about overbuild by gigabit connectivity providers, the country’s more remote regions seem at risk of being left in the broadband slow lane. To address this imbalance, the government has announced plans to enable some of the UK’s most remote homes and businesses to be connected to better broadband through satellite and has also announced the largest deployment contract in its Project Gigabit national broadband network roll-out.

As part of the new plans, the government has officially launched a trial that will see the extent to which satellites can be used to deliver high-speed connections to more than a dozen “very hard-to-reach” locations. These are defined as the less than 1% of UK sites that are too difficult to upgrade via expensive physical cables in more extreme locations, such as mountainous areas or small islands. 

5. Global 5G market defies macroeconomic challenges

The November 2022 edition of the Ericsson mobility report has found that despite current and developing economic challenges in many parts of the world, global 5G subscriptions remain on track to top one billion by the end of this year, and five billion by the end of 2028.

If the current rate of growth is maintained as stated in the report, Ericsson believes 5G will reach the billion subs benchmark two years faster than 4G did. The report also forecasts global fixed wireless access (FWA) connections to grow more quickly than previously expected, being one of the major early 5G use cases, particularly in regions with unserved or underserved broadband markets.

6. Public safety 5G networks represent $700m opportunity

The public safety broadband communications sector is set to see a steady surge in cumulative spending on rapidly deployable network assets between 2022 and 2025, based not only on 5G technology, but also LTE and 5G, according to a report by analyst SNS Telecom & IT.

The analyst’s Public safety LTE & 5G market: 2022-2030 – opportunities, challenges, strategies & forecasts predicts that during the study period, this spending will exceed $700m.

7. Nokia, TPG Telecom set new 5G uplink speed record in Australia

Claiming a 5G milestone for uplink, Nokia and TPG Telecom have revealed that they have hit a 5G upstream speed of 2 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using the Australian consumer and business internet service provider’s 5G mmWave spectrum.

The uplink milestone was achieved during a live demonstration at the Nokia 5G Futures Lab in Sydney. The demonstration involved a commercially available Nokia AirScale 5G mmWave base station utilising TPG Telecom’s 26GHz spectrum to connect, over the air, to a 5G device powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system featuring fourth-generation Qualcomm QTM545 mmWave antenna modules.

8. Private 5G drives sustainable and agile industrial operations

Rockwell Automation, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies and Verizon have entered into a collaboration to look at how the increasingly popular private 5G can provide a backbone for tomorrow’s application uses cases within manufacturing and process operations.

The partners noted that 5G’s intrinsic capabilities make it a perfect fit for industrial automation and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) in general, with the promise of being a viable technology to augment, and even replace, traditional wired industrial network connections. Specifically, the firms are evaluating industrial private 5G technology with Ethernet/IP connectivity.

9. 5G industry innovates towards next-generation wireless networks

A whitepaper from 5G Americas says research is under way for future 6G wireless cellular networks that may be capable of opening up new opportunities to extend wireless systems into nearly every facet of human and machine interaction.

The Mobile communications towards 2030 paper from the industry trade organisation for leading telecommunications service providers reviewed activities shaping wireless networks beyond 5G throughout North America and around the world, including initiatives in Germany and India. It examined early specifications and requirements for emerging mobile communications applications, including holographic communications, imaging and sensing, evolutions of massive internet of things (mIoT), smart agriculture and first responder services, among others.

10. TIP 5G plans to pave the way to transform private 5G network economics

A surge in private 5G network deployments has been under way for almost two years now, and the steady flow of deployment has led to optimism through the comms ecosystem, even though many deployments today are custom projects that are expensive to implement and maintain. Offering a remedy to this issue, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) 5G Private Networks solution group has revealed details of a trial showing how the economics of private networks can be substantially transformed through technological innovation.

The TIP group, led by leading operator Telefónica, used a computer vision application as a driving use case. The group combined private 5G with edge compute for service components with strict requirements – ie video processing and the user plane function – while taking advantage of the efficiencies of a central cloud where possible.

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