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5G FWA

Published 04 June 2019 in 5G FWA
Tags: Nigeria, Africa, FWA, fixed wireless access, mmWave, 5G

The CBNL Team

CBNL showcases mmWave 5G FWA in Nigeria

We recently took to the road to visit two of our longest-standing customers in Nigeria, MTN and Vodacom, for whom we have been providing mobile backhaul and fixed wireless access services now from as far back as 2006. With an impressive footprint in Nigeria and throughout Africa, these customers are instrumental in providing the region’s businesses and residents with crucial connectivity, so these bi-annual visits have become an important forum for us to connect in person as we partner to develop connectivity solutions for future of this country.

This year’s roadshow presented us with an opportunity to share an overview of CBNL’s current business roadmap, give an update on our latest services and recent projects, and introduce the latest additions to our market leading product portfolio – VectaStar Edge and VectaStar 600 Flex. Designed specifically to address the emerging fixed wireless residential access and smart city markets, these new products were a focal point of the visit as together we discussed what the future of broadband technologies and what the next generation of wireless connectivity will look like for Nigeria.

According to the ITU’s 2018 State of Broadband report, Africa’s fixed broadband market is worth a staggering $5.7B, though strikingly 97 per cent of existing connections across the market are delivered on expensive, ageing copper infrastructure rather than fixed wireless technology, which is capable of delivering a more reliable, higher-performing network architecture at a lower cost than the existing infrastructure.

Whilst Nigeria is in many ways a microcosm of the wider African landscape, lower regional average revenue per user (ARPU) along with pressure from local government to deliver reliable connectivity to the unconnected is creating a unique set of challenges and is driving operators to search for solutions that are capable of delivering better performance at a lower cost. This is where cost-effective, easily deployable point-to-multipoint (PMP) networks can provide an appealing alternative for sustainable fixed wireless connectivity across the region.

Since we first entered the region in the early 2000s, CBNL has been establishing a pedigree working with operators in Nigeria and across Africa to roll out reliable networks that leverage point-to-multipoint technology using mmWave. Addressing some of the region’s specific pain points, mmWave Fixed Wireless Access can offer operators fibre-equivalent performance at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO). What’s more, these networks are considerably quicker-to-deploy, providing operators with a more flexible solution that can quickly scale to meet future demand and growth.

As we continue working in Nigeria, the ability to provide on the ground support and training remains a top priority as the industry anticipates the commercial rollout of 5G and the advent of smart cities. The city of Lagos in Nigeria, one of Africa’s first cities to embrace smart technologies, is home to one of our many Centres of Excellence, a local hub from which we provide crucial training for local engineers and deliver technical support to help our customers maximise the profitability of their own network.

Beyond the borders of Nigeria, CBNL has a local presence on the ground in South and East Africa, with reach into Ghana, Cameroon, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To date, CBNL serves 25 customers in 17 African countries, delivering PMP networks and turnkey services and acting as a key infrastructure provider for the region’s leading operators.

If you would like to discuss any of our latest updates in more detail or find out how CBNL could help your business, please do contact us at enquiries@cbnl.com.

Published 15 January 2019 in 5G FWA
Tags: mmWave, 5G, FWA, millimeter wave, Millimetre wave, US spectrum auctions

Eric Miller, VP 5G Business Development

With 2018 behind us, it’s time now to look ahead to a new and exciting year for our industry.

In the last two years, it has been widely accepted that fixed wireless access (FWA) using mmWave spectrum has a significant role to play in the rollout of 5G. With the FCC hosting auctions at 24GHzand the bands above and the introduction of the first mainstream 5G use cases – as recently took place in South Korea – we expect adoption of FWA to proliferate throughout 2019.

Here’s a snapshot of how we think that will come to pass through the year ahead:

Millimeter Wave Spectrum Auctions

In its bid to promote the deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other advanced spectrum-based services at frequencies above 24 GHz, the FCC opened its 28 GHz auction 101 in mid-November. The auction is still going with total bids approaching the $700 million mark, but activity has slowed and it is expected to conclude in the next couple of weeks. This auction is mainly comprised of smaller cities and rural areas and covers only about 25% of the US population. Even still, with the status of current bids, this puts the auction on par with or exceeding the Straightpath pricing metrics for the more populous license areas such as Mobile, Alabama; Charleston, South Carolina; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

On the other hand, many of the very rural licenses only have bids in the hundreds of dollars. On average the current pricing across all markets is around $0.011 per MHz-pop, with the most populous markets fetching 5 or 6 times that. Auction winners will not be revealed until the auction comes to a close, but we would expect Verizon to pick up higher tier markets to round out their national footprint of 28 GHz spectrum and regional telcos will pick up licenses within their respective service areas for future FWA and mobile 5G services.

Auction 102 for 24 GHz spectrum will kick off immediately following the 28 GHz. These licenses are for much larger geographic areas compared to auction 101 (counties) and are completely unencumbered. We assume there to be intense bidding for these licenses by the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile as they try to create national 5G mmWave footprints. Cable companies, such as Cox, and WISPs like Starry and OneRing will likely compete for select licenses in their target service areas.

At the FCC’s December 12th meeting, the Commission voted to move ahead with upper 37, 39, and 47 GHz spectrum auctions towards the end of 2019. The 38/39 GHz spectrum is still full of RSA encumbrances as well as the legacy channel interleaving so it will likely take much of 2019 for that band to be cleaned up and ready for auction. The 37 and 47 GHz bands also have some satellite and government encumbrances. As such, winners of the 24 and 28 GHz auctions will have a slight head start with both spectrum and equipment availability relative to the other mmWave bands to be auctioned later this year.

Carrier-grade Enterprise Access

The national carriers like Verizon and AT&T have largely kept away from fixed wireless for enterprise access, instead focusing on expanding their metro fiber footprints. That could begin to change in 2019 and 2020 depending on the success of their 5G fixed wireless residential deployments. Local and regional CLECs, like Windstream and TPX have embraced fixed wireless and they should continue to expand their deployments in 2019, especially as they get access to more spectrum. For the competitive carriers, fixed wireless offers a facilities-based option to provide carrier grade enterprise access without the expense of trenching fiber. They can also use it to offer a true diversity solution for enterprises that require continuity of service.

Residential Broadband

Verizon began to deploy a non-standards based 5G fixed wireless solution in select residential markets through the second half of 2018. We would expect to see those deployments expand in 2019 and eventually replaced by fully standards-compliant radio units. AT&T has tested and expressed interest in offering 5G residential FWA service, but they need to sort out their mmWave spectrum situation first, so likely will not explore commercial residential deployments until later in 2019. Local and regional telcos and WISPs will likely be more active with residential fixed wireless as they get access to additional licensed spectrum in the mmWave bands as well as the lower frequency CBRS band.

In 2019 we should also see an expansion of fixed wireless for serving Multi Dwelling Units (MDUs). Established providers like DirecTV as well as start-ups like Starry view fixed wireless as a cost-effective way to provide competitive broadband Internet services to MDU customers versus the traditional LECs and cable companies. Customers would then purchase over the top content.

So, those are thoughts. If you would like to discuss how FWA can help your business in 2019 or beyond, please do contact us at enquiries@cbnl.com.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Eric Miller
VP 5G Business Development
CBNL

Published 08 October 2018 in 5G FWA
Tags: Africa 5G mmWave FWA
Lionel Chmilewsky, CEO, addressing CBNL team in Nigeria

The CBNL Team

CBNL team in Nigeria

A blueprint for connectivity in Africa

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit some of our customers and staff in West Africa. While these trips are always important, this one held particular significance for our business. CBNL started working in Africa as far back as 2006, initially with MTN in South Africa. The continent has been of paramount importance to our business ever since.

During my visit, I caught up with some of our customers based in Nigeria, namely Vodacom Business Nigeria, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria. I took the opportunity to hear their thoughts on how business in the region is shaping up, where they see their businesses growing in the next twelve months and taking the time to learn about the latest innovations in their product lines.

I also shared an update on CBNL’s plans in Africa and our latest R&D that will continue to extend our portfolio through 2019 and beyond. Of course, my main focus was on how we can better service them: our customer base.

CBNL has been a long-term player in Africa, developing wireless solutions to cater for the demand in data growth, which has happened exponentially in recent years. But our work is not over and there is much more to do. We continue to explore ways of penetrating the African market more deeply, building on our existing footprint and developing new and innovative products for our customers in this part of the world.

It has been well documented that there is a digital divide between the different nations of the world. The United Nations’ most recent exploration of the state of global broadband suggests we face a “digital chasm” in the disparity of connectivity between wealthy and poorer nations, many of which are in Africa.

It is so often said that Africa faces a unique set of challenges that get in the way of it ever having internet access for all. Poor infrastructure, vast distances and power shortages are just some of these, along with low average revenues per user (ARPU), which can make infrastructure investment unviable.

But other continents face similar difficulties – such as remote parts of Asia, for example. This is where cost-effective, easily deployable approaches with low operating costs and upfront CAPEX, such as Point-to-Multipoint (PMP) communications, can work well. Indeed, our very own PMP networks and turnkey services now support 25 customers across 17 African countries and act as key infrastructure for the region’s leading operators.

Our experience in Africa is vast. It includes deploying high-capacity fixed wireless networks using high frequency bands such as 26GHz for businesses in Angola with Unitel. Additionally, working with Expresso telecoms Group, we have built a major wireless network that distributes high-capacity broadband from the ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine fibre system to key urban and business regions in Guinea. Consequently, we know what it takes to deploy Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services in mmWave across Africa, and we believe we have the blueprint for African operators looking to unlock the power of mmWave for the next iteration of backhaul, enterprise access, residential broadband, 5G, and the smart city applications that come with it.

With the UN predicting that by 2050 urban areas will house 68 per cent of the global population, municipalities will need to be creative in their approach to building liveable and sustainable environments. Connectivity is a key aspect of this. And nowhere is this situation more apparent than in Africa, where the population is expected to double by 2050, reaching 2.5 billion people, with the “megacity” of Lagos predicted to double in its current size to be home to 42 million inhabitants.

This kind of population growth, paired with the shift in our way of living, means smarter cities will soon be paramount. The good news is, from a technical standpoint, companies like CBNL can support smart city applications on the same infrastructure as the existing mobile backhaul. This lowers the barrier to entry for operators who want to be partners to municipalities because there is no longer an enormous cost assoctiated with adding these applications. We’ve deployed exactly this kind of solution in Poland, where a local city authority adopted an agile PMP mmWave solution to allow for more efficient orchestration of its network resources and greater flexibility to deliver a range of services over a single, common physical network.

Given our current position working alongside many operators in Africa to leverage the power of mmWave, there is every reason to believe that this kind of network can be emulated in cities like Lagos in the near future.

Local presence is key to us in Africa as having a foot on the ground, we believe, shines through in the levels of service and support we can provide. Like with any other continent, there is no “one size fits all” approach that will work in this market, which is why we have dedicated CBNL offices in Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. From these hub locations we provide training locally and develop partnerships with regional value-added resellers. As a result, we offer technical support, maintenance, installation and other services, all in the local timezone and with a full understanding of local conditions. This support is essential.

In Lagos, at our Centre of Excellence, and from our hub office in Johannesburg, we frequently help operators apply best practice to maximise the profitability of their own network. Why? Because often vendors are focused on technical performance, but the purpose of a network is both to provide a service to customers and a financial return to its owners. Once a good service is secured, then operators can reap the financial benefits.

In summary, and at the risk of stating the obvious, the African continent is vast. There is a wealth of growth potential for our business that is yet to be explored. With the advent of smart cities and the proliferation of 5G, CBNL hopes to be at the forefront by helping our African customers to innovate and take advantage of these technological changes. We have the blueprint to do it, so if you need our help just get in touch or come and see us at AfricaCom in November.

Lionel Chmilewsky
Chief Executive Officer
CBNL

Published 20 February 2017 in 5G FWA
Tags: 5G, fixed wireless, UK

Dr John Naylon, CTO and founder, CBNL

Ofcom has set out its timeline for spectrum allocation and anticipated deployment of 5G, which is an enormous step forwards in accelerating the next generation of connectivity in the UK.

According to the plans, the UK is expected to see pre-commercial networks as close as 2018, ahead of a 2020 launch.

The proposal outlines plans to utilise 3.4GHz to 3.6GHz, which are already cleared by public sector organisations, and will be auctioned later in 2017.

Spectrum in the 26GHz band will also play a pivotal role, with Ofcom launching a consultation process for this in the second half of 2017.

26GHz undoubtedly holds huge potential to provide bandwidth far in excess of today’s typical “fibre broadband” speeds that many homes and businesses receive.

As a result, we’re likely to see 5G fixed wireless emerge as the first 5G use case in the near term, followed by a wealth of new and exciting 5G use cases, including automotive, IoT and mobility.

This model closely follows the US market, where the FCC recently opened up vast amounts of flexible use, high frequency spectrum in the 28, 37 and 39GHz bands as part of its 5G Spectrum Frontiers proposal.

Over the last year, we’ve already seen many thousands of homes and businesses in the US receiving 100Mbps+ pre-5G fixed wireless services through adjacent bands to 26GHz.

Ofcom are adopting a highly progressive strategy, allowing operators to combine the complementary properties of both low and high band spectrum.

The superfast carrier-grade bandwidth of 26GHz is coupled with the wider coverage of 3.5GHz, creating a harmonised strategy to offer a more economically feasible strategy to connect the many homes and business across the UK that still don’t receive adequate broadband services.

As we have seen in recent news, there are many businesses, even in large cities like London, that can’t get timely access to the connectivity needed for modern commerce.

This move therefore holds enormous promise to provide a significant boost to the UK economy.

With the wireless technology already in place to utilise these frequencies, UK mobile operators and ISPs are perfectly placed to deliver an immediate uplift in connectivity to their customers once this spectrum becomes available.

 

Just one week to go until MWC...

If you are interesting in finding out more, I'll be speaking at the 5G Beyond the Hype: Value And Building Blocks seminar at Mobile World Congress a week today (16.00, 27 February, Hall 4 Auditorium 4).

We will also have a live demonstration of our VectaStar solution on display at CBNL’s booth in Hall 5 (5H27) during the show

For more information on booking a meeting with CBNL, visit our event page.

I hope to see you there.

 
Published 05 November 2015 in 5G FWA, Events
Tags: AfricaCom, digital dividend, tower sharing, Backhaul, LTE

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

One of the pleasures of attending AfricaCom is gaining insight into the most recent innovations in network architecture, and particularly in understanding how the business case for a mobile network can be improved by technical innovation.

The macroscopic telecoms environment features exponentially growing customer demand for data, delivered within a flat-to-declining ARPU envelope. 

This is particularly the case in Africa, and is driving a number of phenomena in all parts of the modern mobile network.

One example is tower sharing, whereby operators can reduce their capex and opex by amortising the costs of infrastructure across their combined subscriber bases.

Another example is the use of so-called ‘digital dividend’ ex-broadcast spectrum at 700 and 800MHz to create LTE coverage across wide areas more cost effectively. 

The physical propagation characteristics of these low frequencies mean that a given LTE base station can provide coverage to a larger radius. 

In turn, that means more subscribers are served by a single base station.

These approaches help in delivering services more cost effectively because they both increase the degree to which infrastructure is shared amongst subscribers. 

The neat part is that this increased sharing does not compromise the user experience in any way. 

This is because users’ data demands in mobile networks are statistically mutually asynchronous. 

In other words, it doesn’t matter how many other subs might use a given set of network resources throughout the day, only the number using those resources at a precise instant.

In the backhaul segment of the network, another example of a technology which can enhance network ROI is PMP microwave. 

Just as in the previous two examples, PMP microwave increases the amount of sharing of infrastructure that occurs. 

In this case, a single hub radio and its RF channel is time-division multiplexed amongst amongst multiple 3G or LTE base stations, avoiding the need for dedicated hub backhaul hardware for each base station. 

Again, because of the statistical asynchrony of backhaul requirements, there is no difference in the service delivered to the base station or end user. 

Using efficient technology in this way can create TCO savings of nearly 50% for the backhaul network.

African mobile operators are world leaders in adopting all three approaches described above, and in making a virtue of the necessity to do so. 

Because the growth in data demand shows no sign of abating, creating a relentless need to deliver more bits for the same cost, these techniques are becoming increasingly relevant in all regions of the world.

As in previous years, the CBNL executive team will be attending AfricaCom 2015 and look forward to meeting our customers and media from across the continent.

If you are attending AfricaCom and would like to meet us at the event, please email Chris Wright, CBNL’s Marketing Director, at cwright@cbnl.com who will be happy to schedule a meeting for you at the CBNL suite.