Friday, June 30, 2017

Keeping an eye on Alibaba Cloud, Aliyun – Part 1

Alibaba's Jack Ma made headlines across the world last week by laying out a plan for rapid global expansion of China's e-commerce behemoth. In an Investor Conference held at the company's Xixi headquarters in Hangzhou, China, Ma made the bold claim that Alibaba could reach $1 trillion in gross merchandise value by 2021 by becoming the primary online store for 2 billion people, as well as by expanding into new areas, one of which is the international public cloud services business. While Alibaba's investor event was overshadowed somewhat by the news that Amazon will spend $13.7 billion in cash to acquire Whole Foods, the premium U.S. grocery store chain, Jack Ma unveiled a strategy with clear potential to disrupt the cloud market.

Meanwhile, business at Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) is 'fantastic' and is only going to get better this year, according to the company CFO. For the most recent fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2017, the company reported revenue of RMB 38,579 million ($5,605 million), an increase of 60% year-over-year, including:

•   Revenue from core commerce of RMB31,570 million ($4,587 million), up 47% year-over-year.

•   Revenue from cloud computing of RMB 2,163 million ($314 million), up 103% year-over-year.

•   Revenue from digital media and entertainment of RMB 3,927 million ($571 million), up 234% year-over-year.

Growth at the parent company is primarily being driven by the steady increase in active buyers on its ecommerce platforms, both in numbers and in the value of goods and services being transacted. Annual active buyers reached 454 million, an increase of 31 million from the 12-month period ended on March 31, 2016. Mobile monthly active users (MAUs) on Alibaba Group’s China retail marketplaces reached 507 million in March, up 97 million over March 2016. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces in fiscal year 2017 was RMB 3,767 billion ($547 billion), up 22% compared to RMB 3,092 billion in fiscal year 2016.

Alibaba Cloud, or Aliyun as it is known in Chinese, is firmly established as the leading infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud in mainland China and is moving rapidly to become a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) retailer. Some important Aliyun metrics emerged from the Investor presentation, including (with additional commentary):

·         Public cloud is growing: based on Gartner's figures from March 2017, Aliyun estimates the global public cloud market will amount to $245 billion in 2017, growing to $436 billion in 2021, a 15.9% CAGR.

·         China’s public cloud market is growing even faster, with Gartner figures showing China’s public cloud market, valued at $14 billion this year, growing to $25 billion in 2021, a 17.2% CAGR; by 2021, China’s share of the global public cloud market would still be under 6%, which seems odd given the country's share of global GDP is much higher and that ecommerce, social media and mobile technologies are booming in China - why so low versus the U.S. market?

·         Aliyun cited figures from IDC Tracker 2016 H1/H2 Global Cloud Market (IaaS), indicating it currently is the No.4 player in public cloud services worldwide, but with only a 3.2% share; No.1 was AWS, $8.4 billion, 46.1% share; No. 2 Microsoft, $1.4 billion, 7.6% share; No.3 IBM, $1.0 billion, 5.8% share; No.4 Alibaba, $0.57 billion, 3.2% share; No.5 Google, $0.519 billion, 2.9% share.

Clearly, AWS is dominating the public cloud market, especially in the U.S. The other U.S. public cloud players are investing aggressively to catch up and they too seem to have ambitions that reach to the sky. Alibaba's Jack Ma has previously been quoted in the press as saying that Alibaba would catch and surpass Amazon. When it comes to cloud services at least, this will be extremely difficult given its current 3.2% share versus AWS’ 46.1% share, and a capex budget that appears decisively smaller.

In its home market of China, Aliyun's IaaS revenue is equivalent to the next seven players combined. The numbers cited in IDC Tracker 2016 H1/H2 Global Cloud Market are as follows:

·         No.1 – Alibaba Group, $587 million, 40.7% market share

·         No.2 - China Telecom, $123 million, 8.5%

·         No.3 – Tencent, $106 million, 7.3%

·         No.4 – Kingsoft, $87 million, 6.0%

·         No.5 – Ucloud, $79 million, 5.5%

·         No.6 – Microsoft, $72 million, 5.0%

·         No.7 – China Unicom, $67 million, 4.6%

·         No.8 – AWS, $55 million, 3.8%

In addition, as of March 31, 2017 Aliyun had 874,000 paying customers, had 15 data centres worldwide and had 186 cloud service offers. It also claims a 96.7% retention rate amongst its top paying customers in Q1 2017 compared to a year earlier.

Over one-third of China’s Top 500 companies are on Alibaba Cloud, including China's Public Safety Bureau (PSB), CCTV, Sinopec, Sina Weibo, Xinhua News Agency,Toutiao, Geely, Mango TV, CEA, Quanmin Live, Panda TV and DJI, while two-thirds of Chinese Unicorn companies are on Alibaba Cloud. Global Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) now available on Aliyun include Accenture, SAP, Docker, here, SUSE, Haivision, Wowza, AppScale, AppEX, Hillstone, Checkpoint Software Technologies, Hitachi Data Systems and Red Hat.


Aliyun’s Computing Conference 2016 was attended by over 40,000 developers in person, with more than 7 million viewers online. At its investor conference, Aliyun also disclosed a number of major international brands that are now using its services, including Schneider Electric, Shisheido, Philips, Nestle and Vodafone, which is a good start. Nevertheless, attracting international companies will be harder, first, because Alibaba has only just recently begun building data centres outside of China, and two, they will be much less known and trusted than established brands such as IBM.

AT&T to launch software-based 10G XGS-PON trial

AT&T announced it will conduct a 10 Gbit/s XGS-PON field trial in late 2017 as it progresses with plans to virtualise access functions within the last mile network.

The next-generation PON trial is designed to deliver multi-gigabit Internet speeds to consumer and business customers, and to enable all services, including 5G wireless infrastructure, to be converged onto a single network.

AT&T noted that XGS-PON is a fixed wavelength symmetrical 10 Gbit/s passive optic network technology that can coexist with the current GPON technology. The technology can provide 4x the downstream bandwidth of the existing system, and is as cost-effective to deploy as GPON. As part of its network virtualisation initiative, AT&T plans to place some XGS-PON in the cloud with software leveraging open hardware and software designs to speed development.
AT&T has worked with ON.Lab to develop and test ONOS (Open Network Operating System) and VOLTHA (Virtual Optical Line Terminator Hardware Abstraction) software. This technology allows the lower level details of the silicon to be hidden. AT&T stated that it has also submitted a number of open white box XGS OLT designs to the Open Compute Project (OCP) and is currently working with the project to gain approval for the solutions.

The company noted that interoperability is a key element of its Open Access strategy, and prompted the creation of an OpenOMCI specification, which provides an interoperable interface between the OLT and the home devices. This specification, which forms a key part of software-defined network (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV), has been distributed to standards and open source communities.



  • AT&T joined OCP in January 2016 to support its network transformation program. Earlier this year at the OCP Summit Edgecore Networks, a provider of open networking solutions and a subsidiary of Accton Technology, announced design contributions to OCP including a 25 Gigabit Ethernet top-of-rack switch and high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet spine switch. The company also showcased new open hardware platforms.
  • At the summit, Edgecore displayed a disaggregated virtual OLT for PON deployment at up to 10 Gbit/ based on the AT&T Open XGS-PON 1 RU OLT specification that was contributed to the OCP Telco working group.
  • Edgecore's ASFvOLT16 disaggregated virtual OLT is based on the AT&T Open XGS-PON 1 RU OLT specification and features Broadcom StrataDNX switch and PON MAC SOC silicon, offering 16 ports of XGS-PON or NG-PON2, with 4 x QSFP28 ports and designed for next generation PON deployments and R-CORD telecom infrastructure.

Ciena teams with University of Waterloo

Ciena announced that it is working with engineering researchers at the University of Waterloo to develop solutions to help network operators and Internet providers address to the ever increasing demand for faster data transmission over the Internet.

The partners stated that the research relationship has received funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

A key area of the University of Waterloo's partnership with Ciena focuses on realising the maximum possible capacity from the optical cables that run under the oceans and which handle around 95% of intercontinental communications, including an estimated $10 trillion per day in financial transactions. Ciena noted that the reliable, high-speed transmission of huge amounts of data over undersea cables is increasingly important in fields including healthcare and academic research.

For the research program, Amir Khandani, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo, is leading a team of post-doctoral fellows and graduate students that are developing algorithms designed to efficiently and rapidly correct errors, including lost or dropped bits of data, that occur during extremely high-speed, long-distance optical transmission.

When incorporated on the electronic chips that are built into equipment for receiving and transmitting data, the algorithms developed by the Waterloo team can free up cable capacity, while also enabling the faster correction of errors in line with other technological advances in optical communications.


Under the three-year partnership, announced at an event at the University of Waterloo, Mr. Khandani holds the position of Ciena/NSERC Industrial Research Chair on Network Information Theory of Optical Channels. Ciena noted that the relationship between Waterloo Engineering and Ciena has already produced seven U.S. patents, with additional patents pending.


Cavium and China Unicom trial 5G user cases on M-CORD

Cavium, a provider of semiconductor products for enterprise, data centre, wired and wireless networking, and China Unicom announced a targeted program for the testing of 5G use cases on a M-CORD SDN/NFV platform leveraging Cavium's silicon-based white box hardware in M-CORD racks populated with ThunderX ARM-based data centre COTS servers and XPliant programmable SDN Ethernet-based white box switches.

Under the program, China Unicom and Cavium plan to shortly commence trials in a number of locations across mainland China to explore the potential of the new service.

Cavium and China Unicom are specifically demonstrating multi-access edge computing (MEC) use cases developed through a previously announced collaboration based on the ON.Lab M-CORD (Mobile Central Office Re-architected as a data centre) SDN/NFV platform at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai.

The demonstration involves a M-CORD SDN/NFV software platform and hardware rack integrated with virtualised and disaggregated mobile infrastructure elements from the edge of the RAN to distributed mobile core and the ONOS and XOS SDN and orchestration software.

The companies stated that this architecture is designed to enable turnkey operation in any central office or edge data centre for a full NFV C-RAN deployment. The solution is based on a Cavium-powered rack that combines the ThunderX ARM based data centre servers with the programmable XPliant Ethernet leaf and spine SDN switches to provide a full platform for M-CORD.

Regarding the latest project, Raj Singh, VP and GM of the network and communication group at Cavium, said, "Cavium is collaborating with China Unicom to explore 5G target use cases leveraging the M-CORD SDN/NFV platform and working towards field deployment… a homogenous hardware architecture optimised for NFV and 5G is a pre-requisite for field deployments".



  • Earlier this year, Radisys and China Unicom announced they had partnered to build and integrate M-CORD development PODs featuring open source software. For the project Radisys, acting as systems integrator, used the CORD open reference implementation to enable cloud agility and improved economics in China Unicom's network. The companies also planned to develop deployment scenarios for the solution in the China Unicom network.
  • The resulting platform was intended to support future 5G services by enabling mobile edge services, virtualised RAN and virtualised EPC. The companies also planned to develop an open reference implementations of a virtualised RAN and next-generation mobile core architecture.

TIM launches 1G FTTH and previews 4.5G

Italy's TIM has claimed another first for its mobile network by enabling upload speeds of up to 75 Mbit/s for all customers, and from July this year will enable 700 Mbit/s download speeds, over its 4.5G network in Turin, Milan, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Taormina and Giardini-Naxos.

In addition, as part of its fixed and mobile ultrabroadband initiative, TIM is launching a new 1,000 Mbit/s fixed-line service in 70 Italian municipalities. The company stated that the initiatives are the result of key investments to upgrade its ultrabroadband network, which currently reaches approximately 67% of Italian homes with fibre and covers 97% of the population via its 4G mobile network.

Through its Fibre and Mobile program, TIM offers customers connectivity enabling up to 1,000 Mbit/s download and 100 Mbit/s upload rates in 70 municipalities where the FTTH service is already available and, leveraging its 4.5G mobile network, 700 Mbit/s download rates in 11 cities. TIM stated that new customers can now sign up for its new Fibre and Mobile offer and receive broadband service with from 100 up to 1,000 Mbit/s bandwidth.

TIM stated that through planned investments for the period 2017 to 19 amounting to around Euro 11 billion, of which Euro 5 billion is dedicated to network modernisation, it has extended fibre coverage in Italy to over 16 million homes in around 1,900 municipalities. In 1,300 of these municipalities the broadband speed has been doubled to 200/70 Mbit/s via its FTTH infrastructure.

In addition, on its mobile network, having become the first service provider in Europe to launch 4.5G commercial service with download speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s in 11 cities, from July this year TIM plans to offer up to 700 Mbit/s download speeds in Turin, Milan, Naples, Rome and Palermo, Taormina and Giardini-Naxos for customers with compatible devices.

TIM is also offering all customers mobile service with upload speeds of up to 75 Mbit/s on Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and Sony XPERIA XZ Premium devices.



  • In April, TIM announced that as part of a program to implement 5G technology it would launch the first field tests in the city of Turin, and would demonstrate the technology in the city on 5G Day at its Open Lab innovation and development centre.
  • The Torino 5G project, instituted by TIM through an agreement with the Turin municipal authority, is designed to allow TIM to carry out early trials of 5G technology in a metro environment by the end of 2018. The company noted at that time that Turin was expected to become the first city in Italy to have a 5G mobile network, and cited a goal of deploying the technology by 2020.
  • For the 5G Day, TIM partnered with Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson to demonstrate speeds of up to 700 Mbit/s download and up to 75 Mbit/s upload over its live 4.5G mobile network.

Silicon Labs launches XOs for 100/400G line cards

Silicon Labs, a supplier of silicon, software and solutions for networking applications, has introduced a new family of crystal oscillators (XOs), the Si54x Ultra Series, that is claimed to offer the lowest jitter frequency-flexible solution on the market.

The new Si54x Ultra Series XOs deliver jitter performance down to 80 femtoseconds (fs) for both integer and fractional frequencies across the entire operating range. The devices provide leading frequency flexibility and jitter margin performance and target demanding applications including 100/200/400 Gbit/s line cards and optical modules, hyperscale data centres, broadband, wireless infrastructure, broadcast video, industrial and test and measurement systems.

Silicon Labs' Si54x Ultra Series XOs are available with single, dual and quad frequency options and offered in an industry-standard 3.2 x 5 mm package, providing drop-in compatibility with traditional XO devices, as well as fast lead times and high reliability.

Silicon Labs noted that its PLL-based approach to oscillators is designed to enable efficient manufacturing and simplified factory programming to reduce lead times compared with custom oscillator products. Silicon Labs claims that this approach allows it to ship samples of any frequency XO within 1 to 2 weeks, and to deliver production quantities wthin four weeks.

The company's new Si54x oscillators employ Silicon Labs' advanced fourth-generation DSPLL technology to provide an ultra-low-jitter clock source at any output frequency. The device can be factory-programmed to any frequency from 200 kHz up to 1.5 GHz with <1 ppb resolution. In addition, on-chip power supply regulation allows noise rejection and enables consistent, reliable low-jitter operation in noisy scenarios such as high-speed networking and data centres.

The Si54x XOs also offer a drop-in replacements for low-jitter surface acoustic wave (SAW)-based oscillators while delivering superior frequency tolerance and temperature stability. The devices provide support for common output formats including LVDS, LVPECL, HCSL, CML, CMOS and Dual CMOS. Samples and production quantities of the Si54x Ultra Series oscillators are available immediately, and Silicon Labs offers a range of free web-based tools to support design and customisation.



Spirent supports testing of New H3C 100 GBE switch

Spirent Communications, a supplier of network test and measurement solutions, announced that it supported New H3C in conducting what is believed to be the highest density 100 Gbit/s data centre switch test.

Spirent also announced it had partnered with the China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI) to demonstrate automated testing of virtual core networks.

100 Gbit/s switch testing

The test, completed by Spirent and the New H3C Group and moderated by independent test lab Network Test, demonstrated the line-rate forwarding capacity and hyper-scale IP route announcement capacity of the H3C S12500X-AF chassis loaded with 100 Gbit/s ports and achieving a density of 768 x 100G ports per chassis. The S12500X-AF switch can support 48 x 100 Gbit/s QSFP28 pluggable optical modules per slot.

The test involved Spirent TestCenter and the N11U chassis, representing Spirent's flagship network performance test solution, equipped with the high density dX3 12-port 100 Gbit/s test modules designed to verify next-generation data centre architectures and routers.

For the testing, Spirent TestCenter generated 100 Gbit/s line-rate transaction traffic of various frame lengths and provided packet loss, latency, jitter, frame sequence, code errors and FCS error analytics to reflect the quality of transmission in real time.

The Spirent dX3 quint-speed test module can support twelve 100 or 40 Gbit/s ports per slot, 25 x 50 Gbit/s ports, or 48 x 25/10 Gbit/s ports per slot. It also supports key interface features such as FEC, auto-negotiation and Link Training. The module can be used to verify data plane QoS for hyper-dense network devices at line-rate, and for testing complex routing, data centre and access protocols on switches and routers.

Virtual core network testing

Separately Spirent announced a collaboration with the China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI) to demonstrate automated testing of virtual core networks at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai. Spirent noted that the demonstration is part of a joint effort to develop a methodology for automated testing of the functionality and performance of the China Mobile TIC (Telecom Infrastructure Cloud).

The partners plans to incorporate the test methodology into an automated testing system developed by CMRI to speed testing of services in operational virtual core networks and to form part of the complete vEPC environment developed by CMRI.

At MWC, Spirent has provided the test engines for the demonstration, including the virtualised mobile core network emulation and performance testing tool, Landslide Virtual, and the automated testing platform, iTest. The solutions automate performance and functionality tests used to develop, spin-up and monitor the vEPC. In addition, devops models have been developed for the test methodologies, allowing tests to be automated and incorporated into the virtualised network.

AT&T and China Telecom sign partnership deal

AT&T and China Telecom announced they have signed a framework agreement that strengthens their cooperation to support the development of advanced network services for multinational companies operating in China.

Through the agreement, the companies will help multinational customers leverage secure global communications to support business growth in China and worldwide. AT&T and China Telecom will also jointly work to create new services in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based big data, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming, and software-defined networks (SDN).

The companies noted that the new agreement renews the 20-year authorisation under which Shanghai Symphony Telecommunications (SST), the joint venture formed bAT&T, China Telecom and Shanghai Information Investments, was established in 2000. As part of the new agreement, the parties intend to expand the scope of SST and the locations it serves to enable the delivery of new business services and technologies to customers.

Specifically, under the renewed agreement the companies plan to:

1.         Help establish industry standards for SDN and support their adoption.

2.         Launch bilateral roaming tests, as contemplated in a previously executed roaming agreement for business customers.

3.         Explore the potential of VoLTE roaming.


IoT forecasts come into focus

For years now there has been forecast after forecast predicting the size of the IoT market by the end of the decade or ten years hence. There is always a big number of connected things and impressive valuation for the sum of the whole market, and with the large mobile operators such as AT&T and Verizon now including connected things in their quarterly reports there is hard data to back up the rosy forecasts. At an editorial briefing in San Jose last month, Qualcomm executives said it is now shipping one million wireless connections per day - this certainly gives a perspective on how fast IoT can grow. The company has hundreds of OEM design wins for its MDM9206 LTE modem for IoT.

As of June 15th, the GSMA Intelligence services says there are 8,132,111,132 mobile connections, including M2M. The GSMA's online tracker further reports 5,016,263,289 unique mobile subscribers, which are assumed to mean people with at least one mobile phone and SIM card. By subtraction, this means 3.1 billion M2M connections tracked by the GSMA via their mobile operator members.

This piece collects newly published data from several sources. First, IDC recently reported that worldwide spending on the IoT will reach nearly $1.4 trillion in 2021. Second, the Cisco Visual Network Index (VNI) found that M2M connections globally will grow from 780 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion by 2021, a 34% CAGR or fourfold growth. Third, the newly published Ericsson Mobility Study finds that 70% of wide-areas IoT devices will use cellular technology in 2022. While studies from different authors will never precisely line up, this collection of data agrees that real and significant revenue from IoT for carriers has started to materialize and will grow quickly in the near term.

Highlights from IDC’s Worldwide Semi-annual IoT spending guide

The first big finding to notice in IDC's report is that worldwide spending on IoT will reach $800 billion this year, up 16.7% year over year, which means that the market this month must be worth tens of millions of dollars. These numbers are spread out amongst the hardware, software, services and connectivity that enable the IoT. This means splitting the pot between vendors such as Qualcomm, Sierra Wireless, Cisco Jasper, integration specialists, and of course carriers such as AT&T, Orange and Vodafone. There are many others that could be included on this list, especially when considering the global market.  In that sense, the $800 billion is just a starting point. IDC's forecast says that by 2021, global IoT spending will total nearly $1.4 trillion. In a press release announcing the study, IDC's Carrie MacGillivray, vice president, Internet of Things and Mobility, stated that the true value of IoT is realised when the software and services come together to enable the capture, interpretation, and action on data produced by IoT endpoints.

IDC breaks down 2017 investments in IoT as follows: manufacturing operations ($105 billion), freight monitoring ($50 billion), and production asset management ($45 billion), smart grid technologies for electricity, gas and water and smart building technologies ($56 billion and $40 billion, respectively). Looking to 2021, IDC expects these use cases will remain the largest areas of IoT spending. Smart home technologies are forecast to experience strong growth (19.8% CAGR) over the five-year forecast. The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth are airport facilities automation (33.4% CAGR), electric vehicle charging (21.1% CAGR), and in-store contextual marketing (20.2% CAGR).

IDC sees hardware as the largest IoT spending category to 2021, the last year of the forecast, when it is overtaken by the services category. This is to be expected as the various physical sensors and connectivity units must be deployed first before a service can be offered. IDC says hardware spending will be dominated by modules and sensors that connect end points to networks, while software spending will be similarly dominated by applications software. In addition, IDC says services spending will be about evenly split between ongoing and content services and IT and installation services. The fastest growing areas of technology spending are in the software category, where horizontal software and analytics software will have five-year CAGRs of 29.0% and 20.5%, respectively. Security hardware and software will also see increased investment, growing at 15.1% and 16.6% CAGRs, respectively.

Regional highlights:

•   Asia Pacific (excluding Japan, APeJ) will be the IoT investment leader throughout the forecast with spending expected to reach $455 billion in 2021.

•   The U.S. will be the second largest region with IoT spending reaching $421 billion in 2021.

•   Western Europe will reach $274 billion in 2021.

The IDC Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide is quite comprehensive, covering IoT spending for 12 technologies and 54 use cases across 20 vertical industries in eight regions and 52 countries (for more details see here: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS42799917).

Cisco looks wide with its VNI forecast

Generally speaking, Cisco's forecasts have tended to be the most optimistic. This year’s Cisco VNI indicates that its IoT coverage includes both M2M and emerging category of wearable IoT devices. M2M connections, which Cisco defines as home and office security and automation, smart metering and utilities, maintenance, building automation, automotive, healthcare and consumer electronics, are predicted to grow from 780 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion by 2021, a 34% CAGR or fourfold growth.

Wearable devices, which Cisco notes could connect and communicate to the network either directly through embedded cellular connectivity or through another device (primarily a smartphone) using WiFi, Bluetooth, or another technology, include such things as smart watches, smart glasses, heads-up displays (HUDs), health and fitness trackers, health monitors, wearable scanners and navigation devices and smart clothing. The Cisco VNI predicts that by 2021 there will be 929 million wearable devices globally, growing nearly threefold from 325 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 23%. By 2021, Cisco expects that 7% will have embedded cellular connectivity, up from 3% in 2016. As AR/VR headsets enter the market, they could start to have a tangible impact on mobile traffic.

Ericsson looks to short-range and wide-range IoT connectivity

The newly published Ericsson Mobility Report finds that at the end of 2016 there were around 0.4 billion IoT devices with cellular connections. Ericsson's study divides IoT into short-range and wide-area segments, and it provides some guidance as to how IoT is impacting the network. For instance, the report says use cases with VoLTE calls for IoT (Cat-M1) are starting to emerge. This could extend mobile voice service to IoT devices, an interesting possibility.

By 2021, Ericsson expects there will be 2.1 billion devices connected via LTE-M and NB-IoT networks, roughly a 30% CAGR from today. This trend has already started. This year, several prominent mobile operators have rolled out commercial LTE-M networks. For instance, in March, Verizon announced the commercial launch of its nationwide 4G LTE Category M1 (or Cat M1) network. The coverage spans 2.4 million square miles. Verizon will introduce low rate, multi-year plans to match the longer useful life of Cat M1 devices, including data plans that start at $2 per month per device, with customised options available for bulk activations and volume purchases. In May, AT&T followed suit by announcing the deployment of its nationwide LTE-M network ahead of schedule.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nokia – IP networks re-imagined

Recently we have seen Cisco predict that busy hour global IP traffic will grow 4.6-fold (35% CAGR) from 2016 to 2021, reaching 4.3 Pb/s by 2021, compared to average Internet traffic that will grow 3.2-fold (26% CAGR) over the same period to reach 717 Tb/s by 2021. The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released earlier this week, calculates that the total traffic in mobile networks increased by 70% between the end of Q1 2016 and the end of Q1 2017. And now, Nokia Bell Labs has just announced its own prediction: IP traffic will more than double in the next five years, reaching 330 exabytes per month by 2022 while growing at a 25% CAGR. The company anticipates that peak data rates will grow even faster at nearly 40% annually. Nokia Bell Labs also predicts that 3D/4K/UHD will experience a 4.79x growth from 2017 – 22, that wireless traffic will experience 7.5x growth from 2017 – 22, and that worldwide IoT devices to grow from 12bn in 2017 to 100bn in 2025.

Nokia unveils next gen networking processing engine

Nokia's processing engine sets the stage for perhaps the most significant announcement from the company since the merger of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks in 2015. In a press event entitled 'IP networks reimagined', Nokia unveiled its FP4 silicon, featuring the 'first' 2.4 Tbit/s network processor, up to 6x more powerful than processors currently available. The proprietary chipset is designed for a new class of petabit-class routers.

Core routers traditionally have been the 'big iron' that powers the heart of the Internet. It is a product category dominated by Cisco, Huawei, Juniper and Nokia, including via its existing 7950 XRS routing platform. However, the market has been in flux. Earlier this month, Dell’Oro Group reported a significant break in Q1 17 with Huawei taking the top spot from Cisco in the core router market for the first time. The report also found Huawei taking over second spot from Nokia in the SP edge router and CES market. The primary reason cited for this shift is that the SP core routing business is only growing at a low single-digit rate, while China Mobile is defying the trend with significant investments in their IP core backbone, for which Huawei is the lead supplier. Nevertheless, the overall predictions for rapid growth in IP traffic over the coming five years makes it more likely that service providers will need a significant refresh of their core backbones to handle hundreds of 100 or 400 Gbit/s connections at major nodes.

Nokia's previous generation FP3 chipset, unveiled by Alcatel-Lucent in June 2011 and launched in 2012, packed 288 RISC cores operating at 1 GHz and leveraged 40 nm process technology; the FP2 chipset offered 112 cores at 840 MHz and was built in 90 nm. This network processor lineage can be traced back to TiMetra Networks, a start-up based in Mountain View, California that launched its first carrier-class routing platforms in 2003.

TiMetra, which was headed by Basil Alwan, was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent later in 2003 for approximately $150 million in stock. The product line went on to become the highly successful 7450, 7750 and eventually 7950 carrier platforms - the basis for the IP division at Alcatel-Lucent. Not bad for an idea from a small start-up to grow into the star platform underpinning all of Alcatel-Lucent + Nokia Siemens Networks.

In a launch day webcast, Basil Alwan, now president of Nokia's IP/Optical Networks business group, said we are moving into a new phase of the Internet requiring 'cloud-scale routing'. First, he noted that there is market confusion between Internet-class routers and core data centre switches, which are being used to power the hyperscale infrastructure of the Internet content providers. High-end, data centre spine switches are capable of routing packets at high rates and can handle access control lists (ACLs). Likewise, conventional big iron core routers can switch data flows, and are sometimes deployed in data centres. However, there have been tradeoffs when this role reversal happens. Nokia's new FP4 chipset aims to fix that.

First multi-terabit NPU silicon

Six years have passed since the FP3, or roughly two cycles in the evolution of Moore's Law, so naturally one would expect the new silicon to be smaller, faster and more powerful and efficient. But Alwan said the company took its time to rethink how the packet processing works at the silicon level. To begin with, Nokia redesigned the onboard memory, employing 2.5D and 3D layouts on 16 nm Fin Field Effect Transistor (FinFET) technology. The single chip contains 22 dies, including memory stacks and control logic. It runs at 2.4 Tbit/s half-duplex, or 6x more capacity than the current generation 400 Gbit/s FP3 chipset. The FP4 will support full terabit IP flows. All conventional routing capabilities are included. Deep classification capabilities include enhanced packet intelligence and control, policy controls, telemetry and security.

The FP4 could be used to provide an in-service upgrade to Nokia's current line of core routers and carrier switches. It will also be used to power a new family of 7750 SR-s series routers designed for single-node, cloud scale density. In terms of specs, the SR-s boasts a 144 Tbit/s configuration supporting port densities of up to 144 future terabit links, 288 x 400 Gbit/s ports, or 1,440 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Absolute capacity could be doubled for a maximum of 288 Tbit/s configuration. It runs the same software as the company's widely-deployed systems. The first 7750 SR-s boxes are already running in Nokia labs and the first commercial shipments are expected in Q4.

Nokia is also introducing a chassis extension option to push its router into petabit territory. Without using the switching shelf concept employed in the multi-chassis designs of its competitors, Nokia is offering the means to integrate up to six of its 7750 SRS-s routers into a single system. This results in 576 Tbit/s of capacity, enough for densities of up to 2,880 x 100 GBE ports or 720 x 400 Gbit/s ports. Adding up the numbers, it is not truly petabit-class, but at 576 Tbit/s it is more than halfway there.

Network telemetry leads to security
Another interesting twist concerns security and petabit-class routing. In December 2016, Nokia agreed to acquire Deepfield, a start-up specialising in real-time analytics for IP network performance management and security. Deepfield, founded in 2011 and based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has developed an analytics platform that identifies over 30,000 popular cloud applications and services. Its Internet Genome tracks how traffic runs to and through networks to reach subscribers, in real time, and without the need for probes, taps and monitors in the network itself. At the time of the deal, Nokia said it would integrate Deepfield big data analytics with the dynamic control capabilities of open SDN platforms, such as the Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP) and Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP).

Expanding on this idea, Alwan said Deepfield can really leverage the routers rather than probes to understand what is happening to the traffic. Fewer probes mean lower investment. More importantly, Deepfield could be used to track DDoS attacks passing through the core of the network rather than at the edge destination target. The new FP4 silicon is said to be a very good match for this application.

AT&T Demos 650 Mbit/s using LTE + LAA

AT&T and Ericsson announced that they have conducted a live LTE-LAA technology field trial, during which initial wireless data rates of more than 650 Mbit/s were achieved in downtown San Francisco.

AT&T noted that LTE-LAA technology is expected to play a key role in its push to achieve theoretical peak speeds of 1 Gbit/s at selected small cell sites by the end of this year. In addition, the technology also constitutes a key element as the operator works to upgrade the network and increase speeds in its 5G Evolution markets.

The operator stated that while 5G standards are yet to be finalised, it is seeking to lay the foundation for future wireless networks leveraging the 5G Evolution program and technologies including LTE-LAA as it aims to begin delivering 5G wireless data speeds as early as late 2018.

AT&T previously demonstrated the ultra-fast speeds enabled by LTE-LAA at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it showed mobile user speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s utilising LTE-LAA combined with carrier aggregation, 4 x 4 MIMO and 256QAM.

LTE-LAA combines unlicensed spectrum with licensed spectrum through carrier aggregation to increase overall network capacity and enable faster, more reliable wireless speeds. The technology is designed to co-exist with other unlicensed spectrum technologies such as WiFi via a feature termed 'listen before talk', which allows fair coexistence between LTE-LAA and WiFi.



  • AT&T announced in April that as part of its 5G Evolution program it planned to begin offering higher speed, lower latency services for wireless customers with the latest devices in 20+ major metro areas by the end of the year. The new wireless capability was initially available in parts of Austin, where AT&T wireless customers with a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ are able to access faster 5G Evolution Internet speeds.
  • AT&T stated at that time that the higher speed service would be expanded to Indianapolis in the summer, with plans to extend it to markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco.

Huawei Marine Selected for Cameroon-Brazil Subsea cable

Huawei Marine, the joint venture between Huawei Technologies and UK-based Global Marine Systems, announced it has been contracted by China Unicom and Cameroon government-owned infrastructure operator Camtel to construct the South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL), marking the official commencement of the SAIL cable system implementation phase.

Funded with investment from China Unicom and Camtel, the SAIL system will link Cameroon and Brazil and span around 6,000 km. The cable system will comprise 4 fibre pairs and offer a design capacity of 32 Tbit/s based on Huawei Marine’s advanced 100 Gbit/s technology.

The SAIL system will be the first direct access cable to connect Africa and South America, and on completion is designed to provide a reliable, high-quality intercontinental communications infrastructure between the two developing regions.



  • Huawei Marine originally announced that it had been commissioned to construct the Cameroon-Brazil cable system, initially called Cameroon-Brazil Cable System (CBCS), in October 2015.
  • Also in 2015, Huawei Marine announced it had started marine installation of the Nigeria-Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS), Cameroon's first wholly-owned submarine cable and part funded by the Cameroon government. Spanning around 1,100 km, the NCSCS directly connects Kribi in Cameroon with Lagos in Nigeria and will deliver 12.8 Tbit/s of capacity.
  • Camtel states that to date it has deployed more than 8,000 km of fibre that connects the ten regional chief towns in Cameroon, as well as around 60 divisional/sub-divisional chief towns and hundreds of rural communities; it also provides connectivity to CEMAC region countries including Chad. The company is aiming to build a network spanning over 20,000 km.

Spectra7, providing chips for high-speed connectivity, raises $4.6m

Spectra7 Microsystems of San Jose, California, a developer of high performance analogue semiconductors, announced that it has closed its previously announced bought deal offering of 11,500,000 units at a price of 40c per unit, including the full exercise of the over-allotment option, for aggregate gross proceeds of $4.6 million.

Spectra7 stated that the public offering was underwritten by a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuiy and including Eight Capital and Echelon Wealth Partners.

In addition to the public offering, the company announced that it has closed the first tranche of its private placement of units, as previously announced on June 7th, pursuant to which it issued 3,280,750 units for additional gross proceeds of $1.31 million, including subscriptions by its CEO and certain directors of the company.

Each unit issued through the offerings comprises one common share and one-half of a common share purchase warrant, with each warrant entitling the holder to acquire one common share for 55c per share for a period of two years after closing of the offerings.

Spectra7 stated that the net proceeds from the offerings will be used to fund R&D and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Separately, the company announced amendments to its $6.50 million senior secured term loan facility with MidCap Financial. The amendments include extending the commencement date for principal payments under the loan facility by a year to June 1, 2018, and the option to extend the maturity date of the facility by a further year upon satisfaction of certain conditions.

In relation to the amendments, Spectra7 has issued warrants to purchase up to 750,000 common shares, with each warrant exercisable for a period of five years into one common share at a price of 39c.

For its most recent quarter ended March 31, 2017, Spectra7 reported revenue of $2.7 million, up 8% versus $2.5 million a year earlier, with gross margin as a percentage of revenue for the quarter at 60%, flat sequentially.


* In January, Spectra7 demonstrated what it claimed as the first QSFP28 Double Density (QSFP28-DD) active copper cable (ACC) integrating its new GaugeChanger Plus GC2502 silicon. It also stated it would begin sampling GaugeChanger Plus QSFP28-DD active copper modules to data centre cable assembly companies during the quarter.

Using the linear design of its GC2502, Spectra7 noted that the modules can support both NRZ and PAM4 signalling, enabling 200 or 400 Gigabit Ethernet transmissions over the same cable.

* Spectra7 also announced sampling of IEEE COM-compliant SFP28 and QSFP28 active copper modules to Tier 1 cable assembly and data centre customers in North America and Asia. It noted the modules were available for evaluation and qualification by customers such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Baidu and Alibaba, as well as data centre equipment manufacturers such as Cisco, HP, Dell and Hauwei.


* Spectra7 is an analogue semiconductor company delivering solutions enabling high bandwidth, speed and resolution for electronics manufacturers addressing broadband connectivity markets. Based in San Jose, the company has design centres in Markham, Ontario, Cork, Ireland and Little Rock, Arkansas.

PacketFabric partners with Internet exchanges

PacketFabric, provider of a scalable network-as-a-service platform and a NantWorks group company, announced it has partnered with multiple Internet exchanges (IXs) to extend Internet exchange services to users across the PacketFabric network.

Under the agreements, PacketFabric is initially partnering with multi-metro IXs including AMS-IX and DE-CIX, as well as regional organisations IX-Denver and United IX's Chicago Internet Exchange (ChIX) to launch its IX extension service.

The partnerships will allow PacketFabric to offer an expanded range of interconnection services via its network, as well as enabling its ecosystem partners to reach additional markets and new customers.

Recently, Netrality Properties, owner and operator of network-neutral carrier hotels and colocation facilities, announced that PacketFabric had established a presence at four of its data centre properties nationwide.

Netrality specifically announced the deployment at the following locations: 325 Hudson Street, New York City; 401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia; 717 South Wells Street, Chicago; and 1301 Fannin Street, Houston.


* PacketFabric's software-defined networking (SDN) platform is designed to allow instant, reliable, scalable and secure connectivity between two or more locations. Under the agreement, Netrality customers at the four locations can dynamically design and deploy any network configuration leveraging cloud-based network connectivity to meet their unique and growing network demands.

* PacketFabric, which launched in January this year, offers coast-to-coast connectivity between 130 key colocation facilities across 13 U.S. markets and enables cost-effective and scalable network deployment via its advanced API and web-based portal.


Cavium unveils FastLinQ 41000 10/25/40/50 GBE NIC

Cavium announced the introduction of the FastLinQ 41000 Series products, its low power, second generation 10/25/40/50 Gigabit Ethernet NIC that is claimed to be the only such adapter to feature Universal RDMA.

Cavium's FastLinQ 41000 Series devices are designed to deliver advanced networking for cloud and telco architectures; the products are available immediately from Cavium and shortly due to be available from Tier-1 OEMs/ODMs in standard, mezzanine, LOM and OCP form factors.

The FastLinQ QL41000 family of standards-compliant 25/50 Gigabit Ethernet NICs offer support for concurrent RoCE, RoCEv2 and iWARP - Universal RDMA. The FastLinQ adapters, coupled with server and networking platforms, are designed to enable enterprise data centres to optimise infrastructure costs and increase virtual machine density leveraging technologies such as concurrent SR-IOV and NIC Partitioning (NPAR) that provide acceleration and QoS for tenant workloads and infrastructure traffic.

The new FastLinQ adapters also support network function virtualisation with enhanced small packet performance via integration into DPDK and OpenStack, enabling cloud and telcos/NFV customers to deploy, manage and accelerate demanding artificial intelligence, big data, CDN and machine learning workloads.

For telco and NFV applications, the products provide improved small packet performance with line rate packets per second for 10/25 Gigabit Ethernet, MPLSoUDP offload and integration with DPDK and OpenStack using the Mirantis FUEL plug-in. This allows telco's and NFV application vendors to deploy, manage and accelerate demanding NFV workloads.

Additionally, integrated storage acceleration and offloads such as NVMe-oF, NVMe-Direct, iSCSI, iSER and FCoE enable upgrades from existing storage paradigms to next generation NVMe and persistent memory semantics.

The products also offer zero-touch automatic speed and FEC selection via Cavium's FastLinQ SmartAN technology, which is designed to significantly reduce interoperability challenges in physical layer networks.

Further Features of the FastLinQ 41000 Series inlcude:

1.         10/25/40/50 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity across standard and OCP form factors.

2.         Stateless offloads for VxLAN, NVGRE and GENEVE.

3.         SmartAN to provide seamless 10/25 Gigabit Ethernet interoperability.

4.         Storage protocol offloads for iSCSI, FCoE, iSER, NVMe-oF and SMB Direct.

5.         Management across heterogeneous platforms with QConvergeConsole GUI and CLI.


Regarding the new products, Martin Hull, senior director product management at Arista Networks, said, "Arista… has partnered with Cavium to ensure availability of tested and interoperable solutions for hyperscale data centres… Cavium's FastLinQ 41000 Series of NICs and Arista’s portfolio of 25 Gbit/s leaf and spine systems deliver backward compatibility and investment protection with standards compliance".


China Telecom and Orange Business Services Target IoT

China Telecom and Orange Business Services announced the extension of their strategic partnership into the IoT space during the launch event of eSurfing on the Silk Road, IoT with the World in Shanghai, China, with the new cooperation designed to enable the companies to serve enterprise customers via a combined footprint across three continents.

Through the expanded agreement, multinational customers of China Telecom and Orange will be able to deploy IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) services across each other's networks.

China Telecom enterprise customers with outbound IoT businesses can deploy their assets and offerings on the Orange networks in Europe and Africa, while Orange's global enterprise customers can access the Chinese market utilising China Telecom's IoT network resources and business capabilities. In addition, both partners propose a global solution to address local IoT connectivity requirements leveraging eUICC capabilities and the commonly deployed Device Connectivity Platform from Ericsson.

China Telecom and Orange plan to cooperate commercially and technically to create new service models designed to address global IoT opportunities. Under the agreement, Orange will become one of China Telecom's preferred partners for connectivity in Europe and Africa, while China Telecom will support Orange in delivering connectivity in China.

The agreement also encompasses joint exploration of the potential for enhancing existing IoT capabilities and the application of new technologies such as mobile IoT in the global market.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Deng Xiao Feng, MD of global business department of China Telecom, said, "China is one of the fastest growing markets for IoT applications, China Telecom is working with Orange to push for the building of an advanced IoT solution to capture global IoT opportunities… China Telecom (and) Orange will address the increasing IoT demand and… support enterprise customers with the IoT Open Platform".

ZTE and China Mobile showcase 5G eMBB

ZTE announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai the launch of a live 5G field test in Guangdong, deployed with China Mobile and designed to showcase an enhanced 5G Mobile Broadband (eMBB) experience using 100 MHz bandwidth and delivering a single-user rate of up to 2 Gbit/s.

China Mobile and ZTE conducted the 5G field test in Guangzhou University Town, selected to represent a typical high-traffic scenario and also a key 'pilot field' for enhancing the user experience in 5G eMBB scenarios. ZTE noted that its 3.5 GHz NR (new radio) base station product was used for the 5G field test in Guangzhou.

For the next stage of testing, the companies will carry out multi-site networking tests to evaluate wireless coverage, throughput, mobility, delay and other 5G networking indicators.

As one of China Mobile's strategic 5G partners, ZTE is providing the operator with a range of products, including 5G RANs and virtual core networks (VCNs). In addition, ZTE has been providing support for research covering key technologies, the definition of product specifications and testing of pilot networks to help China Mobile meet its strategic goals.

ZTE and China Mobile have previously carried out collaboration in the areas of 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as currently into 5G. As part of this work, in 2016 ZTE signed a 5G strategic cooperation memorandum with China Mobile, and ZTE's Pre5G massive MIMO base stations have been deployed into the existing network of China Mobile.


* In February this year, ZTE, Qualcomm and China Mobile jointly announced that they planned to conduct interoperability tests based on 5G NR specifications and over the air (OTA) field tests designed to facilitate large-scale verification and commercialisation of the 5G NR technology. ZTE noted that in 2017 it initiated the non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) project, a core element of the 5G NR program.

* Recently, ZTE and China Mobile Quanzhou Branch announced the commercial deployment of 3D-MIMO, also termed Pre5G massive MIMO, in the city of Quanzhou, Fujian province. ZTE stated that with 16 commercial terminals connected, it achieved single-carrier downlink peak cell rate of 730 Mbit/s, with a single-carrier 16-stream downlink peak rate using 3D-MIMO of up to 700 Mbit/s. In addition, a three-carrier rate of up to 2.1 Gbit/s was achieved.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Linux Foundation Launches Open Security Controller Project

A new Open Security Controller Project is being launched by The Linux Foundation to help centralize security services orchestration for multi-cloud environments.

Founding members include Huawei, Intel, McAfee, Nuage Networks from Nokia, and Palo Alto Networks.

The main idea for the Open Security Controller Project is to orchestrate virtual network security policies for virtualized network security functions, like next-generation firewall, intrusion prevention systems and application data controllers to protect east-west traffic inside the data center. A centralized controller would apply the correct policy to the appropriate workload, and it would broker services among cloud management platforms. A open standard would enable seamless integration of multi-vendor virtual security controls.
                               
“Software-defined networks are becoming a standard for businesses, and open source networking projects are a key element in helping the transition, and pushing for a more automated network” said Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking and Orchestration at The Linux Foundation. “Equally important to automation in the open source community is ensuring security. The Open Security Controller Project touches both of these areas. We are excited to have this project join The Linux Foundation, and look forward to the collaboration this project will engender regarding network security now and in the future.”

Open Security Controller Project technology is licensed under Apache 2. Governance for the Open Security Controller Project has been structured to nurture a vibrant technical community. A Governing Board will guide business decisions, marketing and ensure alignment between the technical communities and members. The technical steering committee will provide leadership on the code and guide the technical direction of the project. Visit https://www.opensecuritycontroller.org for more information.

https://www.opensecuritycontroller.org

AT&T launches fixed wireless Internet in 8 states

AT&T announced that its Fixed Wireless Internet for rural and underserved locations is now available in a further eight states, expanding on the initial launch of the service in Georgia in April this year.

With the latest launch, the AT&T fixed wireless Internet service is available to more than 70,000 locations across underserved or unserved areas in the 9 states. AT&T noted that the service expansion is part of its FCC Connect America Fund (CAF) commitment, through which it plans to serve a total of over 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and more than 1.1 million locations by 2020.
The states where the fixed wireless Internet service is being launched are as follows: Alabama; Florida; Kentucky; Mississippi; North Carolina; South Carolina; Tennessee; and Louisiana.

AT&T stated that it plans to expand the service to 18 states overall during 2017, including Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. AT&T plans to reach a total of more than 67,000 locations across Georgia using fixed wireless technology by 2020.



  • AT&T's fixed wireless Internet service provides a home Internet connection for customers in rural and underserved areas and offers a minimum download speed of 10 Mbit/s. The connection is delivered from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna located at the customers' homes or businesses.
  • AT&T announced in January that following trials of fixed wireless Internet (FWI) service in 2016 in a number of states as part of efforts to expand access to rural locations with slow or no Internet connectivity via its participation in the CAF II program, it would launch FWI in areas where it had accepted CAF support.

MPLS-TP OpenFlow extensions approved

ZTE announced that the 'MPLS-TP OpenFlow Protocol Extensions for SPTN' (ONF TS-029) technical document proposed by China Mobile has become a formal standard of the ONF (Open Networking Foundation) after receiving unanimous approval from the forum's board of directors.

The release of MPLS-TP OpenFlow Protocol Extensions for SPTN is intended to provide a foundation for interworking between devices from heterogeneous vendors, and between devices and controllers. ZTE noted that China Mobile's large-scale deployment of software-defined packet transport network (SPTN) devices provides an example for other operators, while five operators are believed to be planning to implement the standard in the near future.

ZTE stated that packet transport network (PTN) technology features separate forwarding/control and a centralised management architecture, while OpenFlow offers an open protocol that performs programmable control for flow tables on the forwarding plane. In addition, an abstract adaptation layer supporting OpenFlow to encapsulate the existing forwarding functions of PTN is intended to provide an efficient means of enabling PTN devices with open and software-defined features.

Additionally, this design is expected to facilitate the commercialisation of PTN devices supporting SDN and thereby accelerate the development of the SPTN supply chain.

It was noted that China Mobile has a longstanding commitment to SPTN technology, in mid-2015, working with ZTE, Broadcom and Microsemi, establishing a discussion group within the ONF to research device specifications for SPTN based on OpenFlow and table type pattern (TTP).

In November 2015, a first ONF draft was proposed based on SPTN TTP that extended flow tables, group tables and related fields supporting MPLS-TP, expanded the OF-Config protocol to support QOS, OAM, protection and alarm performance configuration, and leveraged local OAM processing units to ensure a 50 ms protection switching time.

In tandem with the draft specification, China Mobile also organised lab tests for SPTN devices complying with the specifications and amended the document in accordance with the test results. The draft document was subsequently passed for review by experts from a number of ONF technical groups and adopted as a formal standard.

ZTE stated that MPLS-TP OpenFlow Protocol Extensions for SPTN standard is supported by the SPTN industrial supply chain, including chip manufacturers Broadcom, Microsemi, Centec and Marvell, equipment providers ZTE, Ericsson, Fiberhome, Raisecom, Greenwell, Chuling and Huahuan, instrument manufacturer Spirent and open source software Open Daylight and ONOS.

To date it is estimated that more than 50 operators have deployed MPLS-TP-based PTN devices at scale, including China Mobile, which purchased around 590,000 group customer devices compliant with the SPTN TTP standard in 2016. In addition, six equipment vendors have worked with China Mobile to deploy the networks.


T-Mobile trials LAA enabling 741 Mbit/s data rate on commercial network in LA

Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile in the U.S., serving nearly 73 million customers, has announced what it claims is a network first with the demonstration of a mobile broadband data session live in the field utilising License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network.

The field testing, which was launched in Los Angeles, achieved a 741 Mbit/s download speed using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum.

T-Mobile also claims to have become the first national U.S. wireless carrier to make LTE-U available to its customers. LTE-U uses publicly available 5 GHz airwaves to increase existing LTE capacity and enhance the performance of its advanced 4G LTE network. T-Mobile LTE-U technology is now live in select locations in Bellevue, Washington, Brooklyn, New York, Dearborn, Michigan, Las Vegas, Nevada, Richardson, Texas and Simi Valley, California.

For T-Mobile customers in these locations, LTE-U is available immediately to users with compatible smartphones. The company noted that LTE-U provides similar speed and capacity increases as the technologies it introduced in the fall of 2016, when it launched carrier aggregation, 256QAM and 4 x 4 MIMO, while utilising less licensed spectrum.

T-Mobile noted that the FCC announced it would permit LTE in unlicensed spectrum earlier this year, thereby allowing wireless providers to use unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band that is often under-utilised. T-Mobile then began to rollout new network hardware to support LTE in unlicensed spectrum. LTE-U and LAA-enabled devices and equipment share under-utilised unlicensed spectrum without affecting other users on the same band, including those using conventional WiFi.

The company stated that LAA enables greater carrier aggregation than LTE-U, allowing mobile operators to combine larger amounts of unlicensed and licensed spectrum. T-Mobile added that as part of its plans to further densify its mobile network, it will begin deploying small cells featuring LAA functionality later in 2017.



  • T-Mobile confirmed in February that that it was deploying LTE-U technology following FCC certification of suitable equipment from strategic partners Ericsson and Nokia. At that time, the operator stated that using LTE-U it would enable customers to utilise the first 20 MHz of under-utilised unlicensed spectrum on the 5 GHz band to gain LTE capacity.


Claro Brazil partners with Huawei to launch 4.5G

Huawei announced that Claro Brazil recently launched what is claimed to be the first commercial 4.5G network in Brazil, incorporating 4 x 4 MIMO, carrier aggregation (CA) and 256QAM technology, in the city of Brasilia.

Claro demonstrated 4.5G data rates averaging 250 Mbit/s on compatible smartphones during the release ceremony in Brasilia, which is claimed to be around ten times the average rate delivered on the existing 4G network. Claro also announced its new tariff policy at the event, which features increased data allowances for existing packages.

Huawei noted that as smartphones featuring support for both 4 x 4 MIMO and 256QAM become available in the market, users will be able to access the enhanced capabilities offered by the 4.5G network. On the network side, Claro is able to provide mobile Internet access with fibre-like speeds to mobile customers with suitable devices.

Huawei noted that 4.5G Evolution helps operators enhance their networks by introducing 5G technologies into existing 4G networks. This can allow operators to trial 5G-like services and develop the business models that 5G will support in the future.

Separately, Huawei announced that working with French operator SFR it had completed the first pre-commercial field verification of 4 x 4 MIMO technology in France, enabling a downlink throughput of 628.3 Mbit/s using a commercially available phone on SFR's 4.5G network.

The tests with SFR involved a commercial phone operating on the live SFR 4.5G network and served to verify that the use of 4 x 4 MIMO, combined with 2 CC carrier aggregation and 256QAM modulation, can enable throughput of up to 628.3 Mbit/s. Huawei noted that SFR is aiming to extend its 4.5G network coverage to 90% of customers in France by the end of the year, and to increase this to 99% during 2018.


Commenting on the network launch, Claro CEO Paulo C├ęsar Teixeira said, "The commercial release of the 4.5G network, with 4 x 4 MIMO, carrier aggregation, 700 MHz spectrum activation and advanced modulation, will help the Brazilian communications industry to play a significant role in the worldwide arena, as the country is a pioneer in this technology… Claro will use the recently acquired 700 MHz frequency band as a part of its ongoing effort to build a quality, next-gen mobile network nationwide".


ABI forecasts $1.7bn market over 5 yrs for unlicensed/shared spectrum

According to ABI Research's latest Network Evolution in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum report, which explores the use of unlicensed and shared spectrum, technologies enabling the utilisation of this spectrum type are not only attracting interest from established mobile network operators for low cost network densification, but also from new entrants to the market.

ABI finds that this interest is due to the opportunities that the network technologies offer for densification, neutral hosts, as well as enterprise and private network operators. The research firm predicts that new LTE unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies will create a $1.7 billion hardware market over the next 5 years encompassing LTE Unlicensed, CBRS (citizens broadband radio service) and MulteFire technology.

ABI notes that as a result of the power restrictions inherent with unlicensed and shared spectrum, the technologies are most suitable for small cell indoor or venue deployments. Based on low or no spectrum acquisition costs, plus deployment economics comparable to WiFi, ABI forecasts that demand for in-building wireless penetration in the mid-sized and enterprise verticals will increase dramatically and account for more than half of in-building small cell shipments in 2021.

The research firm reports that numerous companies are developing in technology in this area, ranging from the Spectrum Access System (SAS) providers and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) operators for CBRS, including Alphabet, CommScope, Federated Wireless, to small cell and infrastructure vendors such as BaiCells, Casa Systems, Ericsson, Huawei, ip.access, Nokia, Ruckus and SpiderCloud.

With regards to CBRS, which uses the 3.5 GHz band, ABI notes that an indication that the technology will transform the in-building wireless and mobile industries is that the CBRS Alliance, which advocates for CBRS technology, counts as members all four major U.S. mobile operators, namely AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, as well as major MSOs, Comcast and Charter Communications, plus Google, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm.

Commenting on the report, Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research, said, "LTE-U/LAA appeals to MNOs planning to densify but with insufficient spectrum or the capex to acquire it… while MulteFire and CBRS promise low network build-out costs with economics that threaten to disrupt the DAS market... the technologies appeal to service providers as CBRS pioneers a significant change in spectrum management…. (and) traditional spectrum refarming cannot match the mobile broadband throughput demands with the migration to 5G".


See also