5G just got real – with iPhone 12

Tech giant Apple has finally unveiled it’s most ambitious iPhone lineup till date. This time, the lineup consists of not just 2 or 3, but 4 iPhones, with two base models – iPhone 12 along with a small iPhone 12 mini and two ‘Pro’ models – iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. All iPhone 12 variants support at least sub-6 GHz 5G connectivity. While all these models support mmWave connectivity as well, it will only be exclusive to US versions of the phones, considering lack of usage of the frequency in rest of the world.

Tim Cook making announcement about 5G coming to iPhones

On the spec sheet, all phones have been bumped up with Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip with better cameras paired with LiDAR sensor on Pro models. LiDAR sensor helps achieve higher level of granularity in AR effects. A14 Bionic chip also makes use of Apple’s 5 nm fabrication process. All phones adopt an all-new squared-off design inspired by iPhone 4S. Base lineup comes in two sizes – 5.4 inch for iPhone 12 mini and 6.1 inch for iPhone 12. Whereas pro lineup comes with 6.1 inch for iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7 inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

These iPhones can seamlessly switch between 4G and 5G networks based on the usage to conserve battery power. As 5G modems are still new and power-hungry, Apple is trying to avoid overheating issues by switching between 4G and 5G. Apple also demoed 5G download speeds picking up to 4 Gbps in best network conditions and 1 Gbps in typical network conditions. And this is huge!

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple had skipped going with 5G in last year’s iPhone 11 due to lack of ecosystem and infrastructure. However, things are pretty much different this year and with iPhone 12, 5G has just got real. There has been a lot of talk about 5G going mainstream after this announcement and many operators will probably start kicking off their plans for the network infrastructure. 5G iPhones are definitely going to drive the consumer interest in the next-gen high-speed network.

5G frequencies (sub-6 GHz and mmWave) supported by all iPhone 12 variants (Source: Apple website)

Keeping all the excitement aside, 5G is still in its early days and we do not have sufficient network infrastructure at this point of time except in a few countries and a handful of cities. It will still be few days until these iPhones hit the shelves and reviews are out. There is some skepticism from experts about 5G on new iPhones when it comes to signal reception, battery life and overall performance. But things will be more precise once the reviews are out. While there is no word from Apple about Vo5G or VoNR on iPhone 12, it is safe to consider that an iPhone supporting these standards is still a generation or two away. Also, there is no mention from Apple about any special use cases for 5G. Despite of all this, iPhone 12 is about to bring a necessary ‘push’ for the industry to consider investment in the next-gen network.

India’s Bharti Airtel to deploy Altiostar’s Open vRAN solution

Bharti Airtel becomes the first operator from India to deploy vRAN (virtual Radio Access Network) based LTE network that leverages Altiostar’s open vRAN solution across major Indian cities. The solution being 5G ready, the seamless evolution to 5G will be on the way.

RAN is usually a network component that demands a lot of operating costs from MNOs. But Altiostar’s open vRAN solution opens an opportunity for Airtel for several cost efficiencies and innovation on the radio access network. As cloud-based vRAN is crucial requirement for network slicing, Airtel is also setting the foundation for rollout of 5G applications and use cases. Altiostar’s solution is an innovative approach for maximizing hardware performance and efficiency for 5G networks.

Bharti Airtel is a member of O-RAN alliance and has played an active role in Open vRAN standardization.

Verizon all-set to use standalone 5G core

Verizon has recently conducted a successful test of an end-to-end data session with the new 5G standalone (SA) core. This means the operator can now leverage 5G’s cloud-native containerized architecture – exactly the way it is supposed to be. The operator is planning to start shifting its 5G mobile traffic to the new core later this year.

Most of the existing 5G carriers have deployed their 5G networks in non-standalone (NSA) mode, which still relies on 4G’s EPC (Evolved Packet Core). If 5G core is implemented, Verizon can deliver exclusive features of 5G including network slicing and extremely low latency communication (URLLC) for mission-critical use cases. As per the Verizon officials, the 5G core will enable the operator to achieve new levels of operational automation, flexibility and adaptability.

The network core is a software stack of applications, compute functions, network functions and storage. It is a crucial part of the network that enables IP-based connectivity between the user and the services like internet and voice. Due to cloud-based containerized architecture of the 5G core, it can utilize potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These technologies will allow the dynamic slicing of network (real-time allocation of resources). This technique can provide specific services to different user groups based on their usage requirements. While Verizon still has some virtualization work to complete, it expects to fully commercialize standalone 5G by 2021.