Technology Bulletin

    • GM to Launch 5G-Capable Connected Vehicles in Chin...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • General Motors plans to launch vehicles capable of 5G connectivity for Chinese consumers beginning 2022, providing the groundwork to expand the company’s ... View More
      General Motors plans to launch vehicles capable of 5G connectivity for Chinese consumers beginning 2022, providing the groundwork to expand the company’s in-vehicle and connected technologies. (CNBC) Vinay's key takeaways:  General Motors (GM) has announced plans to make 5G available in most Chevrolet and Buick vehicles beginning 2022. However, the launch is limited to China for now, most likely due to the growing popularity of GM models in the country. GM has more than 5.5 million connected vehicles in China, compared to 16 million in the US. GM’s current connected vehicles utilize the 4G LTE technology, but with the upgrade to 5G the automaker will provide faster connectivity for over-the-air updates, as well as faster and improved communications with other connected vehicles and infrastructure.  5G capability will also support the rollout of autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assist systems.
    • Germany Starts Europe's Largest Hybrid Fuel Cell B...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • German transport company Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK) has introduced a fleet of 35 hybrid fuel cell buses for public transport and also opened two hydro... View More
      German transport company Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK) has introduced a fleet of 35 hybrid fuel cell buses for public transport and also opened two hydrogen refuelling stations at Meckenheim. (Hydrogen Europe) Soumen's key takeaways:  Automotive industry is looking for an alternative fuel and hydrogen can emerge as an excellent carrier for transportable and storable energy. Hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) buses are still in a nascent stage of development. We need collaboration between automakers and local governments to create proper infrastructure for HFC adoption. There are very few players like Hyundai and Nikola that are betting big on development of fuel cell vehicles. More entrance of major automakers in this field will make it a competitor to battery electric vehicles in the coming years.
    • China EV-Maker Nio Launches Battery Leasing Servic...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Chinese electric vehicle (EV)-maker Nio has launched a battery-leasing service that will allow consumers to buy an EV without owning the battery pack, one of th... View More
      Chinese electric vehicle (EV)-maker Nio has launched a battery-leasing service that will allow consumers to buy an EV without owning the battery pack, one of the most expensive EV components, thereby lowering the starting price of its cars. The service, dubbed as “battery as a service”, entails drivers paying a monthly rental fee for using the batteries.   (Reuters) Vinay's key takeaways:  Nio's "Battery as a service", or BaaS, is based on its innovative battery-swapping technologies and its current national network of Power Swap stations and services.  Nio has already obtained more than 1,200 patents related to battery swapping and completed more than 800,000 swaps for users. The company currently operates 143 battery-swapping stations around China and has also announced plans to build 300 new stations next year. BaaS provides a systematic solution to the long-existing challenges for EV adoption i.e. higher initial price of the vehicle, battery degradation, battery upgradability and lower resale value. Expect to see Nio volumes and EV share to grow rapidly in China over the months ahead.
    • Affirmed Predicts Microsoft Will Offer Mobile Core...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Affirmed Networks is still basically acting as a stand-alone company even though it was purchased by Microsoft in April. Affirmed announced today that it’... View More
      Affirmed Networks is still basically acting as a stand-alone company even though it was purchased by Microsoft in April. Affirmed announced today that it’s working with the Swedish company Netmore to set up a private 5G wireless network in the U.K…It will be interesting to watch Affirmed as it gets more integrated with Microsoft. The cloud giant hasn’t been heavily involved with the wireless industry to date.  Mewada said, “Private LTE is obviously an important part. That becomes a low-hanging fruit.” But he said Affirmed’s virtual evolved packet core will allow any mobile operator to move its core network functions and compute workloads to Microsoft Azure's public cloud. He referred to this as “mobile core as-a-service" ported onto the Azure cloud platform. (Fierce Wireless, Aug 18) Gareth Owen's key takeaways: Microsoft has big ambitions in the telco space and has been quite active on the acquisition front recently buying Affirmed Networks, a vEPC provider in April and UK-based Metaswitch, an NFV pioneer in May. Affirmed’s vEPC will allow any MNO to move its core network functions and compute workloads to Microsoft Azure public cloud. This is essentially a “mobile core as-a-service” ported onto the Azure cloud platform.  Although private networks are the low-hanging fruit, there is basically no limitation on the size of the core as scale is not an issue in the cloud. Microsoft could thus even host mobile cores for Tier-1 MNOs. The Internet giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft see the telco cloud as a major opportunity. Clearly, they will be competing against mainstream mobile vendors such as Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia but also they will be partnering with them. While most Tier-1 MNOs have already developed partnerships with the big cloud providers to host their IT infrastructure, we doubt whether these MNOs will be happy to entrust the most sensitive part of their networks to public clouds. In fact, it is imperative that MNOs leverage multiple cloud environments, including private and hybrid clouds, rather than being reliant on a single public cloud provider.  
    • Xiaomi Phones Debut on AT&T Mexico Catalogue
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Chinese brand Xiaomi has further expanded its presence in Mexico by reaching a deal to add its smartphones to AT&T’s catalogue in the country, reports... View More
      Chinese brand Xiaomi has further expanded its presence in Mexico by reaching a deal to add its smartphones to AT&T’s catalogue in the country, reports website Xataka Mexico. Around 3 years after officially launching sales in Mexico, Xiaomi is now offering its popular Redmi Note 9S handset with 128GB of storage via AT&T’s online store…Xiaomi has been selling its devices via America Movil’s Telcel catalogue since last year and has opened a dedicated Mexican online store as well as several Mi Stores throughout the country. (telecompaper, Aug 19) Neil Shah's key takeaways: This is a great win for Xiaomi, and booking space in AT&T’s catalogue should further catalyse the vendor’s ambitions to get onto AT&T’s US shelves next year. Mexico is becoming a key market (alongside Brazil where Xiaomi is unofficially selling) to help the vendor diversify and drive scale outside China and India. And with the upcoming wave of 5G in these markets, Xioami can cement its brand presence now and really capitalize next year.  
    • Cricket Wireless Launches 5G Nationwide Network an...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Cricket Wireless customers nationwide can now enjoy the 5G network…consumers can access 5G on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G with Cricket's $60/mo. Unlim... View More
      Cricket Wireless customers nationwide can now enjoy the 5G network…consumers can access 5G on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G with Cricket's $60/mo. Unlimited Plan…Cricket is also launching its largest Simply Data Rate Plan ever— 100GB of data for $90/mo. (PR Newswire, Aug 21) Maurice Klaehne's key takeaways: 5G in the US is slowly making it down to prepaid providers like Cricket, after having been lit up by all major US postpaid carriers. However, the first device Cricket is launching is the Galaxy S20 Plus 5G for $1199.99, hardly a device that will appeal to many of its subscribers which usually spend less than $300 on a device. 5G service is also limited to their $60 Unlimited plans at the moment, so while it's a good sign that 5G is slowly expanding, it's still very cost prohibitive for many. The cheapest 5G device in the market is currently the Samsung A51 5G and this retails at around $500.  We believe H2 2020 will see a sharp uptick in 5G capable mid-tier devices as OEMs will want to begin capturing this market. The devices will mostly be sub-6 5G devices. mmWave 5G is too cost prohibitive (devices currently cost $50-$100 more for mmWave) and mostly limited to the Verizon network at the moment.
    • Google in Talks With ShareChat as Latter Scouts fo...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Google is in talks with ShareChat for investing in the Bengaluru-based social media firm, two people familiar with the matter told ET.  ShareChat is looki... View More
      Google is in talks with ShareChat for investing in the Bengaluru-based social media firm, two people familiar with the matter told ET.  ShareChat is looking to raise $150-200 million and is holding discussions with investors and technology companies, as it prepares to battle it out with over a dozen rivals to fill the gap left by banned Chinese apps, including TikTok and Helo. ShareChat owns a regional language social media platform that competed with ByteDance's recently banned Helo and a new short-video app Moj, which was released soon after TikTok's exit from the market. (Economic Times, August 17) Tarun Pathak's key takeaways: ShareChat is a perfect fit to Google’s strategy of increasing exposure to India’s rising digital adoption.  Beyond growing ad revenue, a deal could provide richer local insight around the next half billion first-time internet users, helping to shore up its domestic social networking ambitions over the long term.   We’re already seeing a close partnership between the two, with ShareChat’s recent infrastructure migration to Google Cloud. 
    • Commerce Department Further Restricts Huawei Acces...
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today further restricted access by Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and its non-U... View More
      The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today further restricted access by Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List to items produced domestically and abroad from U.S. technology and software. In addition, BIS added another 38 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, which imposes a license requirement for all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and modified four existing Huawei Entity List entries. BIS also imposed license requirements on any transaction involving items subject to Commerce export control jurisdiction where a party on the Entity List is involved, such as when Huawei (or other Entity List entities) acts as a purchaser, intermediate, or end user. These actions, effective immediately, prevent Huawei’s attempts to circumvent U.S. export controls to obtain electronic components developed or produced using U.S. technology. (U.S. Department of Commerce, Aug 17) Brady Wang's key takeaways:  A huge blow on Huawei (HiSilicon) and its supply chain stakeholders.  Major impacts:  Huawei can no longer get commercial chips from suppliers like MTK and other commodity memory vendors. Huawei’s temporary general license (TGL) has expired and is not being extended. This could lead to difficulties in selling older models. If production started before Aug 17, there is no need to apply for the license, but the final shipment date needs to be Sep 14. Only non-5G items will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis – with some possibility of approval. All other license applications (including 5G) will be reviewed, but the presumption is denial. Huawei has significant inventory of key components but it probably did not expect the new restrictions to also cover commercial chips. The company may have been caught on the back foot and might not have the right parts to complete production. Worst case, its smartphone business could turn to zero by Q4. 
    • DT Gets Boost From Sprint Merger, but Warns Agains...
    • Aug 18, 2020
    • The merger of Spring and T-Mobile is still going to plan, says Deutsche Telekom (DT), but the prospect of a Huawei ban gives them cause for concern in their dom... View More
      The merger of Spring and T-Mobile is still going to plan, says Deutsche Telekom (DT), but the prospect of a Huawei ban gives them cause for concern in their domestic market…Last month, DT signed an agreement with Ericsson for 5G RAN, but the company is nonetheless somewhat reliant on the Huawei, with documents published in June suggesting that a removal of their Huawei kit would cost around €3 billion, a scenario likened to ‘Armageddon’…Meanwhile, he extolled the virtues of open, cloud-based technology – also known as Open RAN – which would help to expand the RAN ecosystem and circumvent the problem of Huawei altogether. (Total Telecom, August 13 ) Gareth Owen's key takeaways: The Chinese vendor is supplying around two-thirds of its RAN equipment, with Ericsson responsible for the remaining sites. Most of Deutsche Telekom’s existing 30,000 5G cell sites are believed to be equipped with Huawei equipment, which would need to be replaced if a ban was enforced by the German government. A decision is expected soon. Despite pressure from the US, an outright ban is thought unlikely, primarily due to the economic ramifications on the German economy, particularly the automotive and chemicals sectors, which depend heavily on exports to China. However, the German government may choose to limit the amount Huawei equipment and/or introduce other measures. In a bid to minimise government intervention with respect to Huawei, Deutsche Telekom’s CEO is trying to appease the German government by calling for the introduction of statutory open RAN mandates, opening up the RAN market.  An open RAN mandate rather than an outright ban on Huawei could be a politically acceptable solution for the German government as it could potentially exclude, or at the very least, significantly minimise the presence of Chinese vendors in Germany during the next few years. Of the Big Three incumbents, Huawei is the most opposed to open RAN and potentially has the most to lose, although it has slightly softened its stance recently. In contrast, Nokia and Samsung are the most amenable to the new technology with Ericsson somewhere in the middle. If the German government does not enforce a complete ban, as expected, the likelihood is that Deutsche Telekom will stick with current vendors Huawei and Ericsson. Yet this is another indication that the trend towards open RAN is gaining strength and is being driven by geopolitical rather than market forces.
    • 5G Absent From VW's Big Manufacturing Plant Upgrad...
    • Aug 18, 2020
    • Volkswagen is embarking on a major technological upgrade of more than a dozen of its European auto manufacturing plants. The company's goal is to connect a... View More
      Volkswagen is embarking on a major technological upgrade of more than a dozen of its European auto manufacturing plants. The company's goal is to connect all of its major manufacturing equipment to the cloud so it can use technologies like artificial intelligence to compute things like predictive maintenance of machines and to reduce reworking of vehicles. But 5G is nowhere to be found in Volkswagen's massive upgrade project, despite the fact that the effort appears to be a perfect fit for the technology.  (Light Reading, August 10) ​ Gareth Owen's key takeaways: Volkwagen (VW) together with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and integration partner Siemens is deploying an Industrial IoT (IIoT) Cloud that will connect all the company’s 30,000 facilities, its 122 manufacturing plants plus its global supply chain partners. VW’s IIoT Cloud is the perfect example of a use case routinely touted by mobile operators and infrastructure vendors as ideal for 5G private networks.  Although VW recognises the potential of 5G, the company does not have any concrete plans to use LTE/5G cellular networks, including in its manufacturing plants, and maintains that connectivity will be provided via Wi-Fi and wired networks. In recent years there has been a lot of focus on the use of 5G as the optimum wireless solution for industrial IoT type applications. However, the introduction of new Wi-Fi technologies over the next two to three years may level the playing field and provide an alternative solution. The latest Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6E, incorporates many new, advanced technologies, which makes it significantly superior to previous Wi-Fi generations. These game changing technologies will enable Wi-Fi to compete against 5G in many of the more demanding applications currently being targeted by the cellular industry, particularly for indoor applications. Wi-F is ubiquitous and will remain a more cost-effective solution than cellular for many local area applications. It may well become the network of choice for small, medium - and as VW demonstrates - even large enterprises rather than cellular-based private networks.

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