Service providers expect there is power in numbers, especially when it comes to 5G.
This week, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) shared news of its partnership with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) (See Eurobites: BT, Nokia Buddy Up on 5G). For its part, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) unveiled a 5G standards initiative designed to accelerate deployment after the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) releases official specifications, most likely in 2018. And Verizon and SK Telecom say they will start trials of more advanced mobile solutions over the next few months.
"Working with others towards global standards is something we do often. Our collaboration isn't looking to replace the standards bodies. Instead, it fosters a group where operators and tech companies work together toward a common goal of implementing 3GPP's 5G standards quickly and efficiently," Hank Kafka, AT&T's vice president of access architecture and analytics, tells the New IP Agency via email.
"5G stands to make significant changes to the way we use wireless in our lives and is a big priority for AT&T. By working with a variety of global tech companies and operators we are able to more efficiently prepare for the release of the official 3GPP specifications which will form the basis of the global standards," he adds. "The goal is to enable faster 5G deployment once 3GPP completes the first release of the official specifications. An official technology standard makes the roll-out experience smoother which will help businesses and consumers get 5G technology even faster."
AT&T hopes other companies -- including competitors -- join the initiative. It is in "preliminary discussions" with China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Huawei, Nokia, NTT, Telstra and Vodafone, among others, the operator says.
"Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal," says Kafka.
There may be an alternative, given news earlier this week: Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) signed a memorandum of understanding to team up and turn 5G technical specs into global standards. The partnership apparently builds on the groundwork laid with the 5G Open Trial Specification Partnership, although the more recent pact does not include OTSP's NTT Docomo or KT Corp., writes Iain Morris in Light Reading. (See Verizon, SK Telecom Extend 5G Partnership).
Operators also work closely with developers. Through its relationship with Nokia, for example, BT will work on 5G proofs of concept trials, use cases and the development of the emerging standards and products, BT says. Today Nokia is trialing its 5G-ready radio equipment at a BT lab, the first of many steps in the partnership, according to both companies.
Looking to further expand its New IP sphere of influence, AT&T on Thursday unveiled a 5G standards initiative and a collaboration with Intel on software-centric networking.
Teamwork beyond 5G
AT&T also shared news of a new partnership with Intel on Thursday. Although the two developers have teamed up before on areas such as Internet of Things and 5G, the new relationship focuses on optimizing NFV pack processing efficiency for AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC), says Andre Fuetsch, senior vice president of Domain 2.0 Architecture & Design at AT&T in a blog post. The two also plan to define reference architectures and line up their separate roadmaps in order to accelerate SDN implementation and adoption, he says.
"The two companies are collaborating in a broad range of technologies from 5G to servers used to run virtualized network functions (VNF)," says Fuetsch in an email interview. "A key focus area is for VNF -- providing a cloud platform that runs this software efficiently and reliably."
— Alison Diana, Ambassador, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana or @The_New_IP.