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5G questions
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mindwaves
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May 31, 2019, 09:38 PM
 
As far as I know, there are only two main companies than make equipment for 5G cellular systems, I guess not to be confused with 5G modems that Qualcomm makes for phones. Those 2 companies, I believe, are Huawei and Nokia Ericsson, and all companies in the world have to use of these two companies. Softbank, a Japanese conglomerate, recently choose NE over Huawei.

My question is am I correct that there are only 2 companies, and why aren't any US companies involved? What kind of equipment is AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint using and how come they don't make their own 5G equipment. Surely, Huawei and NE don't have all of the necessary 5G patents in the world, do they?

Honest question and please leave all national security concerns aside for the purpose of discussion.
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subego
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Jun 1, 2019, 01:22 PM
 
We can steal any Huawei patents.

Do AT&T and Verizon build their own cellular hardware?
     
Thorzdad
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Jun 1, 2019, 02:41 PM
 
I don’t believe they do. At least, not directly.
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subego
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Jun 1, 2019, 07:28 PM
 
I’d figure an American player would be more like Motorola.
     
ghporter
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Jun 1, 2019, 07:34 PM
 
AT&T and Verizon almost certainly do NOT build their own cell site equipment. Companies like Siemens, Samsung, Nokia-Erickson and maybe others build the radio systems and much of the data portion as well.

Cell sites contain what are essentially a boatload of radio repeaters. These repeaters have a pretty hefty digital control system, allowing the system to seamlessly hand off to (or take hand off from) the coverage area(s) of neighboring sites, to shift from one channel to another, and all the while track all the metrics needed to make us pay through the nose for their services.

While all of this started out as just almost straight analog audio with out-of-band digital control, almost everything went full digital decades ago. The sites are still massive radio installations, but now the radios handle high speed data instead of compressed audio. This provides for (ideally) cleaner, crisper-sounding audio regardless of handset maker (Motorola once had a well deserved rep for great cell audio quality, but the digital shift took their advantage away).

Digital cell service also allows for a lot more conversations per cell site. Remember “CDMA” cell services? “Code Division Multiple Access” is one implementation of the frequency hopping concept used with WiFi, allowing multiple users on a single radio channel without interference. That’s really old hat nowadays.

On the other hand, companies like AT&T and Verizon have never been equipment makers. The current AT&T, for example, as a technology powerhouse ceased to be when it was forced to break up in 1984. The R&D and manufacturing portions were spun off as Southwestern Bell (which later spun off almost everything other than long distance communication). Through wheeling and dealing, Southwestern Bell, renamed SBC, acquired other “baby Bells,” along with a bunch of other, related companies. SBC reintroduced the name “AT&T” after acquiring the remnants of the original company in 2005. Verizon is the child of Bell Atlantic and GTE, one of the few non-Bell telephone companies in existence prior to the 1984 Bell breakup. No manufacturing there...

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subego
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Jun 1, 2019, 09:19 PM
 
AT&T also used to have AT&T Tech, which was Western Electric and Bell Labs.

That became Lucent, which Alcatel snarfed up at some point.
     
Chongo
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Jun 2, 2019, 05:50 PM
 
Huawei Is the Chinese government.

As far as phones are concerned, Motorola exists in name only. Motorola split several years ago into Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, the latter being bought by google and then sold to Lenovo after keeping all the good stuff used to produce the Pixel.
     
turtle777
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Jun 2, 2019, 06:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
As far as phones are concerned, Motorola exists in name only. Motorola split several years ago into Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, the latter being bought by google and then sold to Lenovo after keeping all the good stuff used to produce the Pixel.
The remaining Motorola (Solutions), while a shadow of its former self, is still a sizable company with more than $7B in revenue.

They make telecommunications equipment, but I t’s mostly custom radios.
I don’t think they make any cellular equipment. .

-t
     
subego
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Jun 2, 2019, 10:14 PM
 
You are correct.

Looks like they sold their cellular infrastructure division to Nokla.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jun 3, 2019, 06:18 AM
 
Do AT&T still own Bell labs? They invent stuff if they don't manufacture it.
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Jun 3, 2019, 07:18 AM
 
Nokia and Ericsson are two different companies. Ericsson and Huawei are the two big ones. Nokia has a network division, initially formed together with Siemens, that is decently sized. They also bought Alcatel-Lucent not too long ago. This means that there are two giants and one conglomerate that is going to be larger than either "giant" once they're all integrated, for three total players.

Lucent is the remnant of what used to be Bell labs.
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turtle777
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Jun 3, 2019, 11:21 AM
 
What’s interesting here is that the US has no independent player in this field.
That’s astonishing in the context of such an important technology.

-t
     
subego
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Jun 3, 2019, 11:44 AM
 
Broke: manufacturing cellular hardware
Woke: manufacturing cellular hardware specifications
     
mindwaves  (op)
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Jun 3, 2019, 12:15 PM
 
I read somewhere it is because there is/was no standards in the US, mostly due to the different standards used by AT&T and Verizon (GSM vs CDMA). As a result, there are no big (or small) 5G network companies in the US. When countries decide to upgrade their networks, only 2 non-US companies to choose from.
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subego
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Jun 3, 2019, 12:26 PM
 
IIUC, both AT&T and Verizon plan to use the same 3GPP 5G standard.

Verizon put out their own standard in the hopes of beating AT&T to market. Ericsson builds their kit. Verizon’s intent was to do upgrades into the proper spec once the standard was ratified a few years down the line.

AT&T then dick-slapped Verizon by fast-tracking the ratification process.
( Last edited by subego; Jun 3, 2019 at 12:52 PM. )
     
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Jun 3, 2019, 01:23 PM
 
The history is that basically this: the first manual cell phones were in the US, but were also major in Scandinavia. The reason is the same - large distances and people working in the middle of nowhere, a situation that is much less common on the continent in Europe. As usage grew, these manual systems needed replacing by something automatic, the first mobile phone systems. In Scandinavia, the various countries decided to cooperate on a standard just for that small region. This became NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone). As other European countries went looking for a mobile system, many of them picked NMT - it was ready and done, and there were phones available from many manufacturers. This was key to the growth of Swedish Ericsson and Finnish Nokia.

As the time came to replace this system with something digital, there was a real attempt to make something global. When this attempt failed, Europe went along with something of its own - GSM (originally an acronym in French), in many ways a development of NMT because of the strong influence of Ericsson and Nokia. As the US operators failed to standardize on something, GSM spread across the world, which was not the intention originally. GSM was backronymed to Global System for Mobile communications. CDMA was standardized four years after GSM launched in products. It could never catch up when starting so far behind. The US became the only place on the globe where that was even a discussion of which standard to use. Qualcomm and Verizon kept CDMA going for another generation, but they had to fold eventually (supposedly after a major deal between Ericsson and Verizon).

Huawei exists because China put its thumb on the scale, and it will stay around as long as China deems it important.

Basically, the US isn’t a player in this market because it spent most of a decade faffing about without a standard in late eighties/early nineties. If it had worked with the Europeans back when GSM was being developed, Motorola would have been a player in that market today.
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subego
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Jun 3, 2019, 03:34 PM
 
My hunch is the cellular infrastructure industry is a lot like lutefisk.

I mean, somebody’s gotta ****in eat it, but the rest of the entire world takes a hard pass.
     
OreoCookie
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Jun 4, 2019, 08:21 PM
 
@P
To add to the story of GSM, the way I remember it was that the states gathered the companies that produced cell equipment at the time (e. g. Nokia, Ericsson and Siemens), put them in a room and told them: come up with one shared standard. We don't care what it looks like, but make one standard and stick to it. That seemed to have really helped.

Regarding China, the market is big enough to support its own standards, but clearly, China wants to export its products to other countries as well. So that means the West gives China more power when new standards are negotiated. Or we accept that China makes its own standards, which I think are quite likely to spread in the developing world. China invests big time in e. g. African countries, and it is obvious that if China wants to finance the construction of a modern cell phone network in, say, Uganda, then Chinese standards would be used. Which then are a barrier to entry for Western companies.
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subego
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Jun 5, 2019, 12:17 PM
 
When it comes to the finer points of exploiting Africans, the Chinese talk a good game, but they can’t beat the West’s centuries of experience.
     
Laminar
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Jun 5, 2019, 01:21 PM
 
Hasn't the West mostly ditched Africa in favor of the Middle East?
     
mindwaves  (op)
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Jun 5, 2019, 08:05 PM
 
As the OP, please don't make it political (or historical) and put it back on target.

In terms of G5 cellular modems, it appears that Huawei (again) and Qualcomm are the only game in town? Although, I think Mediatek featured a processor with a built-in 5G modem recently. Not sure with any collaboration with Huawei on this.
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subego
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Jun 5, 2019, 08:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
As the OP, please don't make it political (or historical) and put it back on target.
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