Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Singtel to rollout nationwide Cat-M1 + NB-IoT

Singtel of Singapore announced that it plans to roll out its nationwide cellular IoT network by the end of September this year with the aim of helping enterprises achieve operational and cost efficiencies through the use of low-power IoT devices.

The Singtel network will support Cat-M1 and NB-IoT technologies and will provide businesses with access to a network offering low-power consumption, extensive coverage and multiple connections. Singtel will also leverage its cyber security expertise to support businesses in implementing secure and reliable IoT solutions, and so address security concerns when deploying remote sensors and IoT devices.

Singtel noted that cellular IoT network can support devices with a battery life of up to 10 years through the use of both low-band and mid-band frequencies. A key feature of the operator's cellular IoT-over-Cat-M1 network is that it will enable businesses to make VoLTE calls in future using small, power-efficient portable devices such as wearables and trackers with voice capability.

Singtel stated that it has been exploring the use of IoT with local companies and large corporations across a diverse range of applications since 2016. Potential applications include environmental sensing, asset tracking, waste management and monitoring of medicine consumption.

In tandem with the deployment, Singtel will be inviting businesses and technology partners to try out and develop IoT solutions at the IoT Innovation Lab. Set up in collaboration with Ericsson, the Iab allows businesses to experience new IoT applications first-hand and develop business models.
* At Mobile World Congress 2017, Singtel and Ericsson presented their Assured+ Consumer Connected Device Solution (Assured+) IoT technology and showcased an IoT ecosystem for operators, networks and devices.

Jointly developed by Singtel and Ericsson, Assured+ is an integrated IoT solution designed to support connected cars and other emerging IoT applications for consumers.

Assured+ enables devices to connect across existing 3G/4G networks, NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M and is designed to support the adoption of such networks while speeding time-to-market for the launch of new services.

* Earlier in the year, Singtel and Ericsson announced a pilot of massive MIMO and cloud RAN technology on Singtel's 4G LTE network as part of the evolution towards 5G.

FCC plans $2bn auction to support rural broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the next step toward launching an auction that will provide nearly $2 billion over ten years to support the expansion of high-speed Internet access to consumers and businesses in rural areas that are currently unserved by fixed broadband service.

FCC noted that the process represents the first time it has held an auction to allocate ongoing Connect America Fund (CAF) support for fixed broadband and voice services in rural areas. The use of a market-based reverse auction mechanism is designed to enable the FCC to expand and support the provision of quality rural fixed broadband and voice services at a lower cost and to maximise its investment.

The auction is scheduled to commence in 2018. With the public announcement, the FCC is seeking comment on the proposed application and bidding procedures for the auction, including: how interested parties can qualify to participate in the auction; how bidders will submit their bids; and how the FCC will process bids to determine the winners and support amounts.

This first-of-its-kind auction of support for fixed broadband and voice service is expected to attract parties that have not previously participated in an FCC auction. Therefore, the FCC's Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, together with the Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, plan to provide detailed educational materials and hands-on practice opportunities in advance of the auction.

Has Mexico’s telecommunications reform of 2013 been a success?

In September 2013, as part of the Pacto por México initiated by the then newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Federal Commission of Telecommunications (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones, or CoFeTel) was replaced by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones or IFT). This new, autonomous federal agency, which is headed by a board of seven commissioners, set out to undo the longstanding monopoly of América Móvil and its Telmex (fixed line) and Telcel (mobile) business units. At the time, América Móvil controlled 71% of the landline business and 82% of the mobile market. Its owner, Carlos Slim Helú, was ranked as the richest person in the world, but in terms of operational metrics Mexico's telecom market was nowhere near that of a developed country. A key objective of the telecom reform was to split América Móvil's fixed line and mobile business units.

It has been three and a half years since the reforms began (or at least three years since they were officially ratified by Mexico's legislature) and the break up of América Móvil has yet to be finalised. Despite losing market share, revenue at the company have grown and the company is now more of a leader for all Latin America. Rather than suffering a financial setback, the Carlos Slim family seems to have prospered since the reforms. So, what has changed?

Mexico's Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) argues that its reforms have made measurable improvements, including:

•   The price of telecommunication services in Mexico dropped by 29% between June 2013 and December 2016, even though the rate of inflation over that period was 12.8%.

•   The concept of national long-distance phone calls became obsolete.

•   The cost of international long-distance phone calls dropped by 40%.

•   The average mobile phone bill dropped by 43%.

•   The ability to easily switch mobile operators with number portability became widely implemented.

•   Since June 2013, the number of paid TV subscriptions (cable or satellite) has risen by 33%; currently, 60% of Mexican homes have a paid TV subscription.

•   Fixed residential broadband access grew 19% between Q4 2013 and December 2016. currently, 48% of Mexican homes have broadband Internet service. As recently as 2011, when efforts to pass the telecom reform were gathering strength, only 11% of the population had broadband access in their homes, with multiple family members in each home, it is now estimated that 61% of the population has broadband access.

•   More than 80% of Mexican homes with broadband service currently enjoy download speeds of 10 Mbit/s or better; in 2015, most home were receiving download service in the 2~9 Mbit/s range.

•   Broadband via coaxial cable is quickly gaining in popularity and now accounts for 35% of the market; DSL service continues to account for the largest share of the market but is dropping in popularity, while FTTH is rising at a 150% annual growth rate.

•   In 2013, América Móvil (Telmex) controlled 71% of the fixed broadband access market, followed by Grupo Televisa at 12%, Megacable-MCM at 6%, and a number of other providers; by 2016, Telmex had lost 14.5 market share percentage points to its rivals and now controls under 57% of the fixed broadband access market.

•   In mobile broadband, América Móvil (Telcel) has also seen its share drop from 82% in 2013 to 72% in 2016; leaders in Mexico mobile broadband include: América Móvil (Telcel) at 72%, Telefonica at 14%, AT&T at 12%, and a handful of other players capturing the rest.

•   The amount of licensed spectrum has risen, before 2013, a total of 222 MHz was available for licensing; currently, 404 MHz is available for commercial use with the addition of 190 MHz of 2.5 GHz bands, Mexico will soon have 594 MHz of spectrum for commercial services.

•   Mexico became the first country in Latin America to end analogue TV service.

•   Private investment in telecommunications in Mexico rose 76% between 2014 and 2016, including many direct foreign investments.

IFT also noted that telecommunication service providers have also benefited directly from the reforms, as the total revenue collected by these companies rose from MXP 399 million in 2013 to MXP 456 million in 2016. Mobile revenue now accounts for 55% of the market, while fixed line accounts for 45%.

The Red Compartida project has selected its vendors

There has been limited public information about the Red Compartida (shared network) project since the selection of ALTÁN Redes as the principal contractor late last year. Red Compartida is sometimes described as the largest construction of a new public access network in the world, although it is eclipsed by the FirstNet emergency response project in the U.S.

Key facts of the initiative include:

•   Red Compartida will only offer wholesale mobile services.

•   Red Compartida will build a new national network covering at least 92.2% of the population.

•   The commercial launch date will be March 31st, 2018, an aggressive target!

•   Red Compartida's largest investor at 33% is Marapendi Holding BV, an indirect subsidiary of North Haven Infrastructure Partners II, an infrastructure fund with a value-add strategy to invest in OECD countries around the world, managed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure; Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec(CDPQ), one of North America's largest pension fund manager holds a 12.68% share; Mr. Miguel S. Escobedo holds a 9.35% share; and Mr. Eugenio Galdón, Chairman of Multitel, holds a 3.34% share.

•   Axtel and Megacable also hold a stake in ALTÁN Redes through a series of non-voting shares and without involvement in management; each have a participation of 4.01%.

•   In March, ALTÁN Redes selected Huawei and Nokia as turn-key technology providers for Red Compartida, a pure IP + LTE network.

•   Huawei technology will be used for central and southern Mexico (telecommunications regions 6 to 9), as well as providing the backbone.

•   Nokia's technology will be rolled out in the northern part of the country (regions 1 to 5). Nokia will also supply the network Core, which includes the Network Operation Center (NOC) and Security Operation Center (SOC).

AT&T continues to invest in Mexico

Finally, it should be noted that AT&T continues to invest heavily in Mexico, even though it may or may not be allowed to participate in the wholesale Red Compartida mobile infrastructure program when it comes online. AT&T's LTE network now covers 88 million people in Mexico and it expects to reach 100 million PoPs by the end of 2018. For Q2 2017, AT&T reported that wireless revenues from Mexico were $665 million, up 9.7% versus the year-earlier quarter, largely due to subscriber growth, which was partially offset by competitive pressures and foreign exchange.  AT&T added 92,000 post-paid subscribers and 402,000 prepaid subscribers in Q2. It now has 13.1 million total wireless subscribers in Mexico, a 31% increase from a year ago.

T-Mobile Austria selects Huawei OTN for metro and backbone

Huawei announced that T-Mobile Austria, a Deutsche Telekom (DT) company, has selected its OTN solution for its planned WDM metro and backbone network deployment projects.

Huawei noted that rapid growth in traffic driven by new services such as LTE/LTE-A, IoT, big data, cloud computing and 4K video mean that T-Mobile Austria's metro network needs to be able to provide higher bandwidth and lower latency. T-Mobile Austria, with around 1,300 employees, serves 4.6 million customers, as well as offering IT services worldwide in cooperation with DT unit T-Systems.

The T-Mobile Austria projects will create a next-generation, high-capacity WDM transport network designed to support the growth in network traffic and new services for the operator over the next five years.

For the project, T-Mobile Austria has selected Huawei's simplified OTN solution to increase bandwidth across its network to 200 Gbit/s per wavelength while efficiently utilising fibre resources leveraging the latest WDM technologies. The operator is also deploying OTN devices at CO sites to consolidate network layers and eliminate intermediate aggregation and forwarding to enable direct optical connections between sites for reduced network latency.

Huawei stated that T-Mobile Austria's existing backbone network supports 40 x 100 Gbit/s wavelengths, which is insufficient to handle increasing traffic loads, while in addition 10/100 Gbit/s hybrid transmission in many locations further limits transmission performance. Moreover, a complex dispersion compensation configuration presents challenges for network planning and O&M and means the existing network cannot support a data centre-centric network architecture.

To address these challenges, Huawei is providing a complete all-optical, coherent backbone network solution providing support for increased bandwidth, flexible traffic grooming and allowing the evolution of the cloud data centre interconnect (DCI) network architecture to enable future service cloudification.

The network-wide CDCG-ROADM configuration delivered by Huawei can support on-demand service grooming, 80 x 100/200/400 Gbit/s channels per fibre and will allow the evolution to the 1 Tbit/s ultra-high-speed transmission.


Huawei is also providing its intelligent optical-layer OSNR monitoring fibre self-test system, which combined with the simplified OTN architecture, is designed to simplify network planning and O&M to meet the demands of inter-data centre traffic.

Transition Networks introduces SFP Ethernet extender

Transition Networks, a provider of data network integration solutions, announced a new small form-factor pluggable (SFP)-based Ethernet extender (TN-EOT-xx) designed to connect distant workstations, devices or workgroups to a corporate network using legacy copper cabling at up to 300 Mbit/s.

Transition Networks' Ethernet Extender enables users to leverage existing 2-wire or coax cable infrastructure to extend Ethernet service with up to 300 Mbit/s bandwidth. The new TN-EOT-xx device can extend Ethernet service on 2-wire cabling over distances of up to 400 metres at 200 Mbit/s bi-directional data rate, or over coax cabling to distances of up to 500 metres at 300 Mbit/s bi-directional data rate.

The TN-EOT-xx SFP device is plug-and-play, requiring no configuration or set up on the host device, and features an RJ-45 connector for 2-wire applications or an RJ-45-to-BNC adapter for coax applications. The extender complies with MSA standards and is compatible with networking devices with a Gigabit SFP slot. The extender has an operational temperature range of -40 to 75 degrees C.


Transition Networks' new TN-EOT-CO (for the server site) and TN-EOT-RT (for the remote site) are designed to be installed in pairs and are available immediately. Transition Networks offers a range of Ethernet Extenders that deliver power along with data over Ethernet or coax cabling.

Avaya appoints Jim Chirico as CEO, enters debt reduction agreement

Avaya announced the appointment of Jim Chirico, currently its chief operating officer and global sales leader, as chief executive officer, effective October 1, 2017, while the current president and CEO Kevin Kennedy is to retire as CEO and a member of the board, but will remain as an advisor to the company.

Avaya noted that Mr. Chirico joined the company in 2008 and has since held a number of positions with the company. As COO and global sales leader, he is responsible for operations, global sales, sales operations, HR and quality.

Prior to Avaya, Jim Chirico served as EVP, global operations, development and manufacturing at Seagate Technology; previously, Mr. Chirico served as an executive with IBM, including in a leadership role for the Networking Division.

Avaya stated that under Mr. Kennedy's leadership, the company transitioned into a software and services company, with for the second fiscal quarter of 2017 software and services accounting for approximately 79% of Avaya's total revenue. Mr. Kennedy also played a key role in positioning the company for its emergence from Chapter 11 proceedings following the divestiture of the Networking business.

Separately, Avaya announced preliminary financial results for its most recent third quarter, ended June 30, 2017, including revenue of between $802 and 804 million, flat sequentially and down 9% year on year, with adjusted EBITDA of $202 to 206 million.

Avaya also announced that it has entered into a plan support agreement (PSA) with holders of over 50% of its first lien debt, including certain members of the Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Creditors, and that it had reached agreement with U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to provide for the termination of the company's obligations under the Avaya pension plan for salaried employees (APPSE) and the related transfer of those obligations to PBGC, with the support of the Ad Hoc First Lien Group.

Key terms of the amended plan include: the reduction of debt by more than $3 billion from pre-filing levels; the settlement and transfer to PBGC of Avaya's obligations under the APPSE; and initiation of steps to enable the company to emerge from chapter 11 as a public company.


Extreme to acquire Avaya networking for $100m with winning bid



Extreme Networks announced that, having entered into an asset purchase agreement under which it would serve as primary bidder in a sale under the bankruptcy code to acquire Avaya's networking business for approximately $100 million, it has been approved as the winning bidder to acquire the Avaya business.Under the bidding process, the assets of Avaya's networking business unit will be sold to Extreme f





Intel sees rapid shift from enterprise to cloud, increased NFV spending

Intel beat financial expectations when it released its Q2 2017 financial results in late July.  The company cited strong growth in its client computing (up 12 percent) and data-centric businesses (up 16%). The good earning report builds on the marketing momentum it established in the quarter with the launch of its Intel Core X-Series family of processors, which are designed for advanced gaming, AR and VR client applications, as well as its Intel Xeon Scalable processors for data centres, artificial intelligence (AI) and other data-intensive workloads. The recent Xeon launch was covered here previously.

Because Intel holds such a dominant and strategic position in the IT ecosystem, its quarterly report is often an excellent measure of the industry’s overall health and an early indicator of significant trends that will impact global network traffic.

The Q2 review

For Q2 2017, Intel reported revenue of $14.8 billion, up 9% year-over-year. After adjusting for the Intel Security Group (ISecG) transaction, which was spun out as an independent company on April 3rd and now known by its original name of McAffee, Intel’s Q2 revenue growth was even better – up 14% from a year ago. Operating income was $3.8 billion, up 190% year-over-year, and non-GAAP operating income was $4.2 billion, up 30%. EPS was $0.58, up 115% year-over-year and non-GAAP EPS was $0.72, up 22%. For Q2, Intel generated approximately $4.7 billion in cash from operations, paid dividends of $1.3 billion, and used $1.3 billion to repurchase 36 million shares of stock.

To top off the good news, Intel raised its full-year revenue outlook by $1.3 billion to $61.3 billion and raised its EPS outlook to $2.66 (GAAP) and $3.00 (non-GAAP), a 15 cent increase over the previous guidance.

Key Business Unit Revenue and Trends
Quarterly Year-Over-Year
Q2 2017
vs. Q2 2016
Client Computing Group
$8.2 billion
up
12%
Data Center Group
$4.4 billion
up
9%
Internet of Things Group
$720 million
up
26%
Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group
$874 million
up
58%
Programmable Solutions Group
$440 million
down
5%
*Data-centric businesses include DCG, IOTG, NSG, PSG, and all other

Clearly a lot of hot areas and promising technologies at Intel

For the Data Center Group, Intel said its current 9% annual growth rate in Q2 probably can be sustained for the whole year – a fantastic result considering that service provider spending overall, including for mobile infrastructure in developed markets, appears to have stalled. Capex budgets may not be restored to normal levels as a percentage of carrier revenue until the 5G upgrade cycle gets under way.

On its Q2 investor conference call, company execs commented that by 2021 the silicon opportunity for data centres could be worth $65 billion per year and that Intel is currently less than 40% of the total available segment today. Beyond its Xeon processors for cloud servers, Intel is chasing adjacent product categories, including Ethernet, Silicon Photonics and its 3D XPoint memory. Its goal is to rule the full data centre rack, and not just the server motherboard.

Cloud and communications service providers

For Intel's DCG, sales for public cloud zoomed up 35% year over year. On the other hand, enterprise data centre spending declined 11%. The two figures are clearly related, with a rapid shift of workloads to the public cloud underway. One can presume many of these to be new workloads. At the time of deployment, companies are signing up for public cloud capacity instead of buying new servers for their enterprise data centre. Or simply, when servers are ready to be retired, enterprises are moving their workloads to the public cloud rather than buying new servers.

Intel cited communication service providers as another growth vector for DCG. Revenues here rose 17% year over year. For Intel, this is good news as it would seem to indicate that network functions virtualisation (NFV) is finally taking hold. Previously, there have been statements from AT&T and Orange revealing an accelerated schedule to migrate large percentages of their network function workloads onto virtualised infrastructure, i.e. x86 platforms.

Leading deployments with the top-tier communications service providers have been underway for the past year. Intel’s 17% growth rate for CSPs seems to indicate a broader adoption base for NFV. If this growth can be sustained, one should expect other companies in the NFV ecosystem to start showing results as well, such as companies offering virtual network functions (VNFs) such as firewalls and load balancers. The NFV movement has had a very long incubation cycle, and now the real spending by CSPs for Intel gear will be a boost for many players.

Together, the cloud and CSP segments make up nearly 60% of Intel’s total DCG revenue. The other segments include the IoT Group, where Q2 revenues were up 26% to $720 million; the non-volatile memory solutions group (NSG), where sales were up 58% to a record $874 million; and the programmable solutions group (PSG), formerly Altera, where revenue declined 5% to $440 million. Intel completed its $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera in January 2016, so it now has a track record of over one full fiscal year in managing the group’s business. The group specialises in field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

A further note regarding Intel and CSPs

On its Q2 investor conference call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the company is making inroads with its 5G strategy as there are now five ongoing trials underway with global service providers and 15 more in the pipeline. We know from earlier announcement that Intel’s office in Austin, Texas became the first customer site for AT&T’s pilot 5G network in December 2016. The 5G fixed wireless pilot in Austin is delivering and ultra-fast Internet connection and DIRECTTV NOW using Ericsson's 5G RAN and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform.

Mobileye acquisition approaches completion

As Intel makes its transition from a PC-oriented company into a data-centric company it is seeking adjacent opportunities either through internal development or acquisitions. One topic on everyone's mind in Silicon Valley is autonomous driving. In this area, it looked like NVIDIA was moving faster to capture the huge opportunity in next gen transport systems. For instance, the newly unveiled Tesla Model 3 is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 AI computing platform. To counter this, in March Intel announced plans to acquire Mobileye, a developer of machine vision systems for automated driving, in a deal valued at $14.7 billion.  Mobileye, based in Israel, claims to be the leading market position in computer vision for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Its portfolio includes surround vision, sensor fusion, mapping, and driving policy products. Mobileye's EyeQ chips are already installed in 16 million vehicles as of 2016. Mobileye currently has OEM relationships with GM, VW, Honda, BMW, PSA, Audi, Kia, Nissan, Volvo, Ford, Renault, Chrysler, SAIC and Hyundai. Mobileye reported 2016 revenue of $358 million and gross margin of 76%. For2017, it should bring in more than $1.6 billion in revenue. Intel said its Mobileye acquisition will be completed by the end of the year.

MeriTalk: federal agencies planning to adopt converged infrastructure

MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT, has announced the results of its latest report, Converged: At the Core of IT All, which examines federal agencies' plans for implementing converged infrastructure solutions to address data centre demands.

The MeriTalk study, underwritten by Cisco and NetApp, finds that 59% of federal agencies are adopting to converged infrastructure solutions as part of their current data centre strategies, while 23% have multiple converged solutions in place. Based on a five-year outlook, the study finds that the average federal agency has a target of transforming 55% of data centres to converged infrastructure solutions by 2022.

MeriTalk notes that modern mission demands are changing the way the government delivers data centre solutions, which is prompting the shift to converged infrastructure. Currently, the study reveals that 72% of federal IT managers believe converged infrastructures will become the central housing mechanism for their data centre needs.

In terms of drivers for the move to invest in converged infrastructures, the study finds that while cost savings are a significant factor, current users of converged systems also cite improved data protection, increased scalability and optimising mission-critical apps as key motivators for the deployment of the new technology.

In addition, MeriTalk notes that converged infrastructures align with the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), as 60% of agencies leverage converged infrastructure to replace working data centres.

However, the study shows that although 57% of current converged users experience growth in operational efficiency, issues remain relating to security, budget and interoperability concerns. In particular, 44% of federal IT managers cite security concerns as the main disincentive to the adoption of a converged infrastructure solution.

The full report, Converged: At the Core of IT All, can be downloaded here: https://www.meritalk.com/study/converged-at-the-core-of-it-all/(registration required).

Regarding the study, Rob Stein, VP, U.S. public sector, at NetApp, said, "The road to an integrated IT system should not be a daunting one… most (existing) data centres and related systems cannot keep up with the growing amount of data within federal agencies… integrating all the pieces of the data centre together radically simplifies data management, especially in the new hybrid cloud world".


See also