Vodafone to Switch on UK’s First 5G Network on July 3, 2019

Vodafone on Tuesday said it will switch on its 5G network in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2019, making it the first carrier to announce a firm date for the launch of the next-generation cellular technology in the country.

Seven cities will get 5G coverage at launch, including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. The rollout will extend by the end of the year to Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.


In a press release on its site, Vodafone said it will price 5G the same as 4G for both consumers and business customers, while a choice of 5G smartphones will be available to buy online or in Vodafone stores over the summer. They will include the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G, the Samsung S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X (5G), and the Huawei Mate X (5G).

The company will also offer a 5G router for use in the home and office to give customers without a fixed line connection high-speed broadband access. Vodafone said it will also offer 5G roaming in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said: "We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together. We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network.

"This is important. It means we can today announce the largest launch of 5G in the UK and be the first to announce 5G roaming. It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract investment. It means consumers can get the fastest mobile speeds ever, and it means that our public sector will be able to adopt new services to improve healthcare, social services and housing."
Multiple rumors dating back months have suggested Apple is going to launch a 5G iPhone in 2020, which means the 2019 iPhones will continue to use 4G.

There were questions about whether Apple would be able to acquire 5G chips for its 2020 devices following its dispute with Qualcomm, however that litigation has been cleared up, making a 5G iPhone in 2020 a real prospect.

Apple won't be prepared to launch 5G iPhones in 2019 and can't afford to wait until 2021, with competitors already launching 5G smartphones, therefore 2020 is almost certainly the year 5G will come to iPhone.


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Apple Engineering Leader Handling 5G Efforts Leaves Company

Rubén Caballero, a hardware engineering executive at Apple who worked with suppliers on modem hardware, recently left the company, reports The Information.

Caballero's departure comes just after Apple settled its lawsuit with Qualcomm and inked a deal that will see Qualcomm supplying chips for future Apple devices, including the 5G chips Apple will need for its 2020 iPhones.


Caballero joined Apple back in 2005, and his name has been included on hundreds of Apple patents related to wireless technologies. Caballero is a well-known part of Apple's antenna engineering group, gaining public recognition following the "Antennagate" situation that impacted the iPhone 4.

A person familiar with Caballero's work at Apple told The Information that he had been responsible for "leading Apple's charge into 5G." Caballero's email address is no longer valid, his phone number is no longer active, and he does not appear in Apple's internal directory.

There is no word on why Caballero left the company, but Apple has been restructuring some of its chip teams. Apple's modem engineering efforts were put under chipmaking chief Johny Srouji back in February. Caballero and Apple both declined to comment on his departure.

Apple is planning to release its first 5G iPhone in 2020 and while the launch of the device is still more than a year away, Apple is already working on the future iPhone and ironing out technical details.

Apple will use Qualcomm chips for its first 5G iPhones, and may also be planning to source some chips from Samsung. In the future, Apple is planning to use its own custom-designed modem chips, but Apple-designed modems won't be ready for "another few years."


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Apple Considered Purchasing Intel’s Smartphone Modem Chip Business

Apple had discussions with Intel about potentially acquiring parts of Intel's smartphone modem chip business, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple was interested in Intel's technology to speed up its own efforts to build modem chips for smartphones.

Intel and Apple entered into discussions last summer and the talks continued for months, but ended right around the time Apple settled its legal dispute and reached a supply agreement with Qualcomm.

Intel 5G Modem
Sources at Intel that spoke to The Wall Street Journal said that Intel is exploring "strategic alternatives" for its smartphone modem chip business, and is still interested in a sale to Apple or another company.

In an interview yesterday, Intel CEO Bob Swan confirmed that Intel is considering alternatives "based on what's best" for Intel's IP and employees.
Selling the modem business would allow Intel to unload a costly operation that was losing about $1 billion annually, according to another person familiar with its performance. Any sale would likely include staff, a portfolio of patents and modem designs related to multiple generations of wireless technology, said Patrick Moorhead, principal at Moor Insights & Strategy, a technology firm.
Intel announced earlier this month that it was exiting the 5G smartphone business, just hours after Apple and Qualcomm announced a resolution to their legal troubles and a new supply deal.

Apple had been planning to use Intel's 5G chips in its 2020 iPhones, but rumors suggested Intel was having trouble meeting design deadlines and that the relationship between Apple and Intel was souring. Just yesterday, Swan also confirmed that Apple's deal with Qualcomm was the reason why Intel decided to stop making 5G chips.

Apple is now planning to use Qualcomm's 5G modem chips in its 2020 5G iPhones. Intel has said that it is going to continue to supply 4G LTE chips to meet already established orders, which means that Apple's 2019 iPhone lineup will likely continue to use Intel chips rather than Qualcomm chips. It is too late in the design cycle for Apple to swap chips for this year's upcoming devices.


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AT&T CEO Believe 5G Phone Plans Could Be Tiered and Priced on Data Speed

The next couple of years will see the rollout of 5G cellular phone networks from companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and it sounds like 5G smartphone plans might not be priced in the same way as current 4G LTE plans.

During today's AT&T earnings call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said (via The Verge) that he believes the pricing for 5G connectivity could resemble home broadband pricing with different prices for different speed tiers rather than one set price for the fastest connectivity available.

"I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn't look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line. If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We're two to three years away from seeing that play out."
5G networks are still in the early days, so how pricing will ultimately work out remains to be seen. It's also not clear how variable pricing for tiered speeds would work given the fact that 5G connections speeds are going to vary depending on whether you're in a city or in a more rural area.

The fastest 5G speeds, available through mmWave technology, will be limited to urban areas. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg this week explained that millimeter wave high-frequency spectrum isn't suitable for widespread coverage, a sentiment shared by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, who wrote a blog post on the subject earlier this week.
Some of this is physics - millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn't travel far from the cell site and doesn't penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.
AT&T has launched its 5G network in a handful of markets across the United States, and other carriers, like Verizon, have also been starting their 5G network rollouts.

There are few smartphones that are able to take advantage of 5G networks at the current time, but additional 5G smartphones are expected later in 2019.

Rumors suggest Apple's first 5G iPhone will come out in 2020, when 5G networks are more mature and more widely available. Apple is planning to use chips from Qualcomm and perhaps Samsung now that Intel is out of the 5G smartphone modem chip business.

Tags: AT&T, 5G, 5G iPhone

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AT&T and Sprint Settle Lawsuit Over Misleading ‘5GE’ Label for AT&T’s 4G Network

AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit that Sprint levied against AT&T for its misleading "5G Evolution" or "5GE" branding that AT&T uses for its upgraded 4G LTE network.

A spokesperson for AT&T today told Law360 that the matter has been "amicably settled." Details on the terms of the settlement have not been shared, but AT&T is planning to continue to use its 5GE branding.


AT&T earlier this year began displaying a 5GE icon on some iPhone and Android smartphones. 5GE is AT&T's misleading name for an enhanced 4G LTE network and is not actual 5G connectivity, which incensed Sprint.

After AT&T rolled out the 5GE terminology, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using 5GE labeling. Sprint accused AT&T of damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's planned 5G rollout this summer.

Sprint also took out a full page ad in The New York Times to call AT&T out for the misleading labeling, calling 5GE "fake 5G." From Sprint's ad:
While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T uses 5GE for its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO to provide faster connection speeds to consumers. These features are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier is using fake 5G branding.

Unsurprisingly, speed tests have confirmed that AT&T's 5GE service is no faster than LTE from Verizon and T-Mobile.

AT&T has defended its 5GE branding by calling 5G Evolution "first step on the road to 5G" and by claiming that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Smartphones that support true 5G connectivity are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware.

5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States are going to be available starting in 2019, but expanded coverage and full rollouts will take some time.


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