From Alexander Graham Bell to AT&T: The World's Telecom Leaders

Telecommunications would not be the same if not for the big names out there – not only are the biggest companies on the globe able to deliver wider coverage, but they also have the know-how and the resources to invest in cutting-edge tech that brings new developments to the market. This is how we got from the old-fashioned receiver landline phones to 5G high-speed internet-connected smartphones. And the world’s biggest and richest telecom companies keep up the race towards the next step in consumer-oriented tech – even if they are not always quite able to make good on their promises when it comes to their real coverage. Today we examine the best and most ambitious among the pack.
With $163 billion in yearly sales, AT&T has surpassed all competition, including China Mobile and Japanese leader Nippon to climb at the top of Forbes 25 Biggest Telecom Companies in 2017. The Forbes list brings together companies from 17 countries across the globe that collectively reach a market cap of $1.6 billion. In 2016, their combined revenues amounted to $1.2 trillion and profits reached $88 billion among them. AT&T rose to the top of the rankings after it decided to buy DirecTV, a satellite broadcast company, in 2015 and went on to create the concept of AT&T entertainment. Short for American Telephone and Telegraph Company, AT&T can traces its roots back to Alexander Graham Bell himself, the legendary inventor of the telephone, as it was established as one of the subsidiaries of the Bell Telephone Company back in 1885 and then went on to buy its parent company a few years later for legal grounds. Headquartered in Texas, USA, the company is one of the largest mobile and landline phone services providers in America.
Verizon Communications Inc., another US-based company that has its headquarters in New York, comes in second in the world. Interestingly, Verizon is what came of AT&T’s decision to divest its regional operations following a mandate from the US government in the 1980s. Bell Atlantic was one of seven companies that broke off from AT&T and in 2000 took on the ambitious name Verizon – a combination of the Latin word for truth, “veritas”, and “horizon”. It is currently run by chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam, who successfully headed the company into buying AOL and then later Yahoo! to branch out into the media sector. The two new companies were incorporated into a new sector, taking on the equally ambitious name “Oath”. It is publicly traded in both the NYSE and Nasdaq stock markets and in Q4, 2017, Verizon Wireless topped its market with over 150 million subscribers, leaving AT&T behind at a little more than 141 million.
Grupo Carso Conglomerate
A bit further south, we find Grupo Carso Conglomerate, a Mexican conglomerate company that is leading the Latin America market. It was founded in the 1990s by Carlos Slim and was named after a portmanteau of his and his wife’s name, which is Soumaya. According to Betway Casino’s billionaires’ journeys list, Carlos Slim is among the richest people in the world with a wealth that reaches $67.1 billion – and he became a billionaire at 51 years old. His empire includes Telmex, a telecom company that serves most of Latin America, including Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile and other countries in the area, as well as América Móvil, a Forbes Global 2000 company with services ranging from Honduras and Jamaica to Mexico and Uruguay, and Telcel, one of the largest wireless communications companies in Mexico with wide coverage all over the country.
Deutsche Telecom AG
One of the most recognizable mobile service providers worldwide, T-Mobile has seen its trademark magenta logo in stores across Europe and the US, serving customers from Austria and the Netherlands all the way across the Atlantic to the New World. It is all part of Deutsche Telecom AG, one of the leading European telecommunications giants, headquartered in Bonn, Germany. Deutsche Telecom also holds significant interest in Telecom, a major service provider in Central Europe and the Balkans region, as well as Greek market telecom leader OTE. It also owned half of EE, UK’s largest mobile network, along with Orange, but divested in 2016.
China Mobile
One of the top companies worldwide, state-owned China Mobile mainly serves mainland China with services ranging from mobile network to multimedia – and pretty much dominates the Chinese market. In March 2018 its mobile service subscribers reached 898,537,000 individuals, with almost 4 million new customers added in that month alone. The company is listed at NYSE and its value in May 2018 reached more than $47 billion, making it one of the richest telecom companies across the globe.
The telecoms industry is a constant struggle between ambitious newcomers and savvy, trustworthy names. Yet, however the power dynamics between companies may change, the developments in tech and service keep moving forward to new frontiers.

Is 5G Just a Bunch of Marketing Hype?

By Dave Burstein
On the effects of 4-3 The best research is from Pal Zarandy at Rewheel, who just did a major study. He found prices were 40%-50% higher in Germany and Austria (4-3) than six others, including France.Gigabyte price development in 4 to 3 consolidated versus 4-MNO European markets – September 2013 to March 2018. Because France has so dramatically cut prices, my figure would be lower, "10%-20%, sometimes more." Canada & France went from 3 to 4 with large price drops, which are now happening in Italy. 
On whether 5G will come faster "Do it all so much faster than either company could on its own,” Legere said in the release. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told MWCT-Mobile Building Out 5G in 30 Cities This Year ...and That’s Just the Start.He also committed to the entire country by 2020. My comment, admittedly snarky, is, "The only way the new T-Mobile could bring 5G faster is to build it in 2017." That would be difficult at this point. It's also unlikely to cover the whole country any earlier than 2020. Tmo VP Technology Karri Kuoppamaki last week emphasized how their 600 MHz spectrum will let them reach the whole country by 2020.  
"Combining is the only way they can fight back against the two industry leaders." Quote fromTimes.We all know how effectively T-Mobile has been competing. CEO Legere: "The T-Mobile team just keeps kicking the competition’s butt and bringing even more choices to consumers."   "T-Mobile will be bigger wireless company than AT&T in 5 years."
On whether Sprint could survive without the merger Many, many statements by the top executives of Sprint on financial calls. If they were lying to Wall Street, they could be prosecuted. A close look at Sprint finances and networks would make clear that Sprint has deep problems but also plausible ways to fix them. (Craig Moffett, an analyst I learn from, disagrees.) "Sprint has posted ten consecutive quarters of postpaid net customer additions. It has also reversed its fortunes in the prepaid space, adding 63,000 in the third quarter."
On whether the T-Mobile 5G is a "seismic shift" “Going from 4G to 5G is like going from black and white to color TV. ... It’s a seismic shift — one that only the combined company can unlock nationwide to fuel the next wave of mobile innovation.” (Claure in the press release.) T-Mobile 4G in part of Manhattan is 500 megabits today. They have said they will roll that technology to 15,000 small cells. (LAA, 3-4 CA, 4x4 MIMO.) Is going from 500 megabit download to 600 megabit download going to change your experience that profoundly? That's the difference between T-Mobile's 4G LTE and "5G" NR.
This week, T-Mobile Technology VP Karri Kuoppamaki said the 5G improvements would be much less than "seismic," something like 25%. That's less than the improvement when LTE added Carrier Aggregation four years ago, 4x4 MIMO in 2016, or 256 QAM in 2017. No one called them a new generation, In addition, the industry consensus is the advanced uses are far away. "The enhanced mobile broadband use case will be driving more than 99 percent of the 5G investments over the next five years." Stefan Pongratz. In other words, for at least five years, 5G will provide more network capacity but will be used in the same way as LTE.
"5G" is not "5G." Much will not be the truly high speeds of millimeter wave. Much of what is now called "5G" is a marketing invention in the last year, including T-Mobile's 600 MHz "5G." Low & mid-band "5G" is the same as 4G LTE with a software tweak (NR - New radio.) Only millimeter wave is much faster than 4G from 2018 equipment. mmWave can be 2-3 times faster than the LTE at 500 meg T-Mobile is rolling out. Verizon and AT&T are using millimeter wave, 28 & 39 GHz. T-Mobile is using 600 MHz & a pr campaign. A year ago, millimeter wave and perhaps Massive MIMO were considered 5G. (See IMT-2020 in standards.) In 2017, lobbyists and marketing people extended the definition of "5G" to anything with a software improvement that does little for speed or capacity. (NR) Corporate run 3GPP expanded the standard. Amazingly few reporters realized that meant most 5G deployments were nothing special. AT&T & Verizon are doing millimeter wave but low and mid-band will be 80% to 90% for at least several years.
Is even the real 5G, millimeter wave, revolutionary? I have quotes rejecting the 5G hype from CEO, CTOs,, or other senior technical people at AT&T, Verizon, British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, Orange and Telefonica. D.C. has fallen for spin. So have too many reporters. Professor Gerhard Fettweis, the leading expert, told a conference last week. "Autonomous cars will not use 5G because they have to work on all roads. They use radar and LIDAR instead." (Story to come.) VR, AR, and telemedicine are working well today without 5G. Remote surgery only needs 5G if doctors intend to work from the beach. (Ask me if you don't see that.) Nearly all the independent technical people see more and faster broadband as the primary use for 5G for years. That makes 5G important for the industry but definitely not world-changing.
"5G offers more reliability than 4G or LTE" Washington Post. Reliability is planned for 5G URLLC (Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications.) The full standard for that isn't expected until late 2019 and wide deployment mostly long after. T-Mobile's nationwide "5G" network does not support URLLC and may never do so, Some engineers are dubious about whether the reliability will be achieved, so firm statements are probably dubious. While 5G may offer more reliability one day, using the present tense is an actual error.
Is 5g required for autonomous cars? The very respected Professor Gerhard Fettweis from Dresden last week at a conference said, "Autonomous cars do not need 5G." They work on LIDAR and radar. 5G mmWave will not cover most roads for a decade or more. There will always be places not covered. Autonomous cars have to be able to work without 5G. IEEE has video of the session; I haven't written it up yet. At least one on the panel disagreed. I would recommend checking with an engineer currently active in the field before publishing on the topic. Many policy people are giving false information, mostly because they don't understand.
Is 5G needed for telemedicine or IoT?  The answer is probably not, but I don't have time to research and write it right now. Again, much of what's said is simply inaccurate; a newspaper we all respect made an error here. 

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