Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AT&T's fixed 5G trial expands to more cities

In a show of confidence in 5G, AT&T announced the expansion of its fixed wireless 5G trials to business and residential customers in Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana by the end of the year. Trial participants in the new markets may include universities, hospitals, churches, restaurants, and other small businesses. Participants will be able to stream premium live TV via DIRECTV NOW and experience faster broadband services, all over a 5G internet connection.

AT&T has been running a 5G field trial in Austin, Texas for some time. In June, this trial was expanded to included fixed 5G connections to various types of businesses and residences. The company said this testing reveals insights into millimeter wave (mmWave) performance and propagation, including variance for foliage, building materials, device placement, the surrounding environment and how weather impacts the signal and system. The testing showed speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and latency rates well under 10 milliseconds for the radio link at customer trial locations in Austin.  AT&T is also conducting outdoor pre-standards mobile 5G testing.

AT&T said that the expanded field testing in Waco, Kalamazoo, and South Bend will increase the number of participants and expand the physical footprint. The company hopes to begin standards based deployment as early as late 2018.

“In Austin, we see all types of weather and substantial foliage,” said Marachel Knight, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, AT&T. “Taking our fixed wireless 5G trials out of the lab and into the real world helps us learn important factors about mmWave and 5G. And in doing so, we’re learning how to better design our network for the future.”

“We’ve been testing and demonstrating 5G technologies with AT&T for over a year and now we’re expanding the scope of our trial to AT&T customers in Waco,” said Joakim Sorelius, head of Product Area Network Systems at Ericsson. “Ericsson is providing an end to end solution that includes new 28GHz radios, virtualized RAN and a full 5G virtualized Core. By testing the technologies in the live commercial-like environment and trialing new 5G use cases together, we are able to gain valuable experience in preparation for commercial deployments based on 3GPP New Radio (NR) technology.”

http://about.att.com/story/att_expanding_fixed_wireless_5g_trials_to_additional_markets.html

AT&T flies drones in Texas to inspect cell towers

AT&T is deploying a fleet of 25 drones to areas in Southeast Texas to inspect cell towers to determine the hurricane's impact on its network.

AT&T said the drones can inspect areas that are still unreachable by cars or trucks because of flooding.

The company is also deploying two Satellite Cell on Wheels (Sat COLTs) in Beaumont, Texas and will stage 12 more in the area to support customers and first responders following the second landfall of Tropical Storm Harvey.

http://about.att.com/newsroom/hurricane_harvey_drones.html

Windstream builds its enhanced ‘Cloud Connect’

Windstream introduced an enhanced version of its Cloud Connect solution, providing a dedicated, high-speed, highly secure cloud-optimized network connection to major Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, Google Cloud, Oracle Fast Connect and Salesforce. The service is available immediately to companies in Windstream’s nationwide service area.

Windstream Cloud Connect offers customers flexible bandwidth options ranging from 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with the ability to design customer solutions using multiple 10 Gbps connections. It also supports a variety of connectivity options – including SD-WAN, MPLS VPN, VLS or new wavelengths.

“Windstream Cloud Connect enables customers to confidently and more cost-effectively migrate mission critical applications, workloads and business processes to the cloud,” said Joseph Harding, executive vice president and enterprise chief marketing officer at Windstream. “We are confident that Windstream Cloud Connect will deliver a better and more cost-effective experience for large and mid-sized enterprises than any of our competitors.”

Windstream said its Cloud Connect allows customers to more easily move data and workloads between cloud environments, as well as maximize flexibility and scalability by integrating dedicated onsite IT infrastructure with shared offsite cloud-based environments. These cloud-based environments enable them to optimize application performance and reliability, increase network resiliency and simplify network management.

http://windstreambusiness.com

FCC: More cell sites restored in Texas

As of August 30, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT, there were 329 cell sites still down in areas of Texas and Louisiana impacted by tropical storm Harvey, according to the FCC.  This is an improvement from 24 hours earlier when 365 cell sites were down.

In addition, there were at least 267,426 cable and wireline subscribers without service, down from at least 283,593 yesterday.

There are 42(up from 21 yesterday) non-mobile switching centers out of service and 25 (down from 35 yesterday)
switching centers on back-up power. All of the additional non-mobile switches out of service are very small switches.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0830/DOC-346445A1.pdf

Frontier counts damage in south Texas

As of midday Wednesday, Frontier Communications, which serves approximately 200,000 access lines in the South Texas area, said that about 100 central offices across the territory either lack commercial power or are operating on battery and generator backup.

Frontier's operations teams are continuing to repair and assess damages to the company's network in severely affected areas and are working to identify and repair damages to poles, pedestals and cables.

http://www.frontier.com

Kuwait-based Zain Group positions for digital transformation

Kuwait-based Zain Group, which now has operations in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, has just raised $846 million in cash by selling a 9.8% equity stake to neighboring Omantel. The all-cash deal adds a measure of liquidity to Zain Group, which is aiming to transform itself into a digital service provider as it prepares for 5G and other advanced infrastructure.

Zain Group, which was established in 1983 as Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications company, once pursued a very geographically expansionist strategy. In 2005, it acquired mobile operations in 13 African countries from Celtel International for a reported US$3.4 billion, including networks in Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Five years later, Zain decided to exit these ventures while making a nice profit on the investment. These African businesses were sold in 2010 to India’s Bharti Airtel for US$10.7 billion.

In 2008, the Zain Group raised US$4.49 billion (by issuing new shares) to support strategic expansion into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Nokia Siemens Networks was awarded a contract valued at US1 billion to rollout the network.

Even now, Nokia continues as a lead vendor to Zain Saudi Arabia, as well as other markets. In May 2017, the companies confirmed the deployment of Nokia’s multi-access edge computing (MEC) platform in Mecca.  A similar installation also uses Nokia centralised RAN technology.to boost network upload speeds at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports stadium by up to 50%.

Since selling its African operations in 2010, Zain has stayed to closer to home, focusing its external efforts on Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, South Sudan, and the very important market of Saudi Arabia. Some of these countries, especially Iraq, Sudan, and South Sudan, are beset by social, political and economic issues – but everyone wants/needs mobile connectivity so demand remains strong.

In a management shake-up earlier this year, Zain’s board of directors appointed Mohannad Mohammed Al-Kharafi as the Chairman of Zain Group, Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi as Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Zain Group, and appointed Scott Gegenheimer in a new role as Chief Executive Officer of Operations. Previously, Gegenheimer, a U.S. citizen, served simply as CEO for all of Zain Group since 2012. Before joining Zain, Gegenheimer held leadership positions at several regional operators, as well as with Cisco Systems and Motorola.

At the end of June 2017, Zain Group counted 45.2 million customers. The breakdown by country is roughly as follows:
Iraq 27%
Sudan 27%
KSA 23%
Jordan 9%
Kuwait 6%
Lebanon 5%
Bahrain 2%

Declining revenue and EBITDA for the first half of 2017

Earlier this month, Zain Group consolidated first half 2017 revenues of KD 508 million (US$1.67 billion) down 8% year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in KD terms. The Group’s consolidated EBITDA for the period reached KD 212 million (US$695 million), down 17% Y-o-Y in KD terms, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 41.7%. Consolidated net income remained stable at KD 82 million (US$270 million). Earnings per share for the half-year stood at 21 Fils (US$0.07).   Overall, the company described its financial performance as “in line with expectations” while acknowledging the impact of a significant 61% currency devaluation in Sudan and other factors. (the company says Zain Sudan continues to perform ‘exceptionally well’ in local currency terms),

Some key items and indicators

Data revenues for the group (excluding SMS and VAS) increased 4% Y-o-Y, representing 25% of the consolidated revenues.

Zain launched an over-the-top, streaming video service called “iflix” across several markets. This follows the announcement earlier in the year that Zain and iflix had formed a joint venture entity named ‘iflix Arabia' to be headquartered in Dubai. The JV will trade commercially as “iflix”, adding Zain’s territories of operation to iflix’s global footprint, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, with the potential to further extend into additional regional markets. The content catalogue will include highly acclaimed Arabic shows and movies, exclusive Arabic content series, best titles from Hollywood and Bollywood, local programming and children’s shows.

In its home market of Kuwait, Zain’s customer base stands at 2.6 million. Kuwait remains the Group’s most profitable operation with revenues reaching KD 167 million (USD 549 million), EBITDA amounting to KD 66 million (USD 215 million) and net income came in at KD 39 million (USD 128 million). Zain Kuwait’s EBITDA margin stood at 39% at the end of the six-month period, with data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS) accounting for 32% of total revenues.

Zain Kuwait is currently implementing a smart meter project, in one of the sector’s largest ICT projects for the country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water. The Smart Meter project, which runs through 2024, is a key step in the company's strategic plans to deploy smart city solutions in Kuwait and beyond. Ericsson has been selected as the sole technology partner in the Zain led consortium.

In June 2017, Zain launched Cloud Disaster Recovery (Cloud DR) service in Kuwait in collaboration with IBM. The new service provides Zain’s enterprise customers with cloud-based business continuity capabilities and faster disaster recovery of their critical IT systems.

In Saudi Arabia, Zain reports improved financial indicators thanks to a turnaround and cost optimisation program. In H1, 2017, the operator recorded its first-ever half yearly net profit of USD 14 million, compared to net losses USD 154 million in H1 2016. Revenues for the period were up by 9%, reaching USD 1.04 billion. The company recorded a significant 59% increase in EBITDA to reach USD 346 million in H1 2017.

Zain noted that the introduction of a biometric identification requirement for mobile services caused its total customer base to shrink by 15% to stand at 9 million customers at the end of June 2017. Impressively, the operator witnessed a 42% rise in data revenues (excluding SMS and VAS) Y-o-Y, representing 50% of total revenues.  

During Q2, Zain KSA also successfully secured an additional 1800MHz spectrum for expansion of its4.5G LTE network's coverage and capacity.

In January 2017, Zain Group appointed Peter Kaliaropoulos, an Australian national, as CEO of Zain Saudi Arabia. Previously, Kaliaropoulos was the GM of ‘touch’ Lebanon until June 2016, the country’s leading operator that Zain manages on behalf of the Lebanon Telecom Ministry

In Iraq, Zain managed to achieve US$523 million revenues due to the impressive growth in data usage and numerous customer acquisition initiatives in the northern regions of the country. The operation’s efficiency drive saw EBITDA reach USD 179 million, reflecting a 34% EBITDA margin. Net income amounted to USD 11 million for the period. Zain Iraq leads the market serving 12.9 million customers, which represented an impressive 15% Y-o-Y increase.

In Sudan, the 61% currency devaluation this year impacted financial results as measured in USD terms for the first six months of 2017. Nevertheless, in local currency (SDG) terms, revenues grew by 38% Y-o-Y to reach SDG 3.4 billion (USD 213 million, down 44% in USD terms) for the first six months of 2017. EBITDA increased by 22% to reach SDG 1.3 billion (USD 81 million, down 50% in USD terms), and net income increased by 14% to SDG 545 million (USD 34 million, down 54% in USD terms). Data revenues (excluding SMS and VAS) accounted for 15% of total revenues, with an impressive annual growth rate of 69%. The operation saw its customer base expand 3% to reach 12.9 million.

In Jordan, Zain grew its customer base by 3% Y-o-Y, serving 4.2 million customers at the end of June, and maintaining its market leading position despite intense price competition. Y-o-Y revenues increased 2% to reach US$241 million, with EBITDA up 1% to reach USD 116 million, reflecting an impressive 48% EBITDA margin. Net income decreased 5% to USD 48 million for the six-month period. With the continual expansion of 4G services across the country, data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS) represented 37% of total revenues, up by 15% Y-o-Y.

In Bahrain, Zain generated revenues of USD 100 million for the first six months of 2017, up 17% Y-o-Y. EBITDA for the period amounted to USD 30 million, down 8%, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 30%. Net income amounted to USD 4 million, reflecting a 21% decrease. Data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS) increased 36% Y-o-Y, representing 43% of overall revenues.

Kolos plans hyperscale data center north of Arctic Circle

A U.S.-Norwegian company called Kolos announced plans to build a massive data center in Ballangen, Norway, 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle.

The facility – slated to open 2018 – is described as a brand-new class of hyper-scale data center. Kolos said its data center will stretch over some 600,000 square meters and is designed as a four-story structure integrated into the natural environment. It will be completely powered by renewable energy, including hydropower and wind.

Kolos believes it can achieve the lowest operating cost in the industry.

Headwaters MB, a leading investment banking firm in the U.S., is advising Kolos on securing the additional capital needed to complete the project.

Paul Janson, President & COO of Denver-based Headwaters MB, commented, “Kolos represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity to change the data center paradigm globally. Currently, operators are hosting data center infrastructure in some of the largest, most densely populated cities across Europe, with staggering real estate and energy costs.”

“The Kolos project will be the largest data center in the world, and one completely powered by hydroelectric and wind power. This is the game changer that will serve as a model for the industry to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate reliance on fossil fuels,” Janson added.

http://kolos.com/

ADVA updates guidance citing weaker orders

ADVA Optical Networking updated its Q3 2017 revenue and profitability guidance.

Citing weaker than expected orders, ADVA said it now expects revenues in Q3 2017 (including acquisition of MRV Communications) are forecasted to be between EUR 110 million and EUR 125 million. Revenues in Q3 2017, excluding acquisition of MRV, are forecasted to be between EUR 104 million and EUR 114 million, down from previous guidance of between EUR 120 million and EUR 130 million.

ADVA Optical Networking also said IFRS pro forma operating income in Q3 2017 (including acquisition of MRV) is forecasted to be between -4% and 2% of revenues. IFRS pro forma operating income in Q3 2017, excluding acquisition of MRV, is forecasted to range between -3% and 2% of revenues. The previous guidance was between 2% and 5% of revenues. IFRS pro forma operating income excludes stock-based compensation, non-recurring restructuring costs, amortization and impairment of goodwill, and acquisition-related intangible assets.

ADVA Optical Networking also plans to reduce its workforce in orde to maximize the value of the MRV acquisition and enhance profitability throughout the combined company. The company expects non-recurring restructuring costs in 2017 to amount to EUR 9 million. Management expects that the reductions will lead to cost savings of EUR 15 million per year on a run rate basis, with the initial effect of these savings being realized in late Q4.

http://www.advaoptical.com/en/about-us/investor-relations/financial-results/ad-hoc-releases/170828

Keysight posts revenue of $832 milllion, up 16%

Keysight Technologies reported quarterly revenue of $832 million, up 16% compared with $715 million last year. GAAP operating margin was -0.4 percent, compared with 15 percent in the third quarter of 2016. GAAP net loss was $18 million, or a loss of $0.10 per share, compared with net income of $91 million, or $0.53 per share in the third quarter of 2016.

“We delivered strong third quarter results. Order growth accelerated to 8 percent on a core basis driven by strength in our key focus areas, and cash generated from operations was $98 million. We are pleased with the momentum we are building in the market with new and existing customers developing leading-edge technologies such as 5G, next-gen Wi-Fi, high-speed datacenters, and automotive and energy,” said Ron Nersesian, Keysight president and CEO.

Some highlights:

  • Communications Solutions Group (CSG) revenue was $418 million in the third quarter, compared to $424 million in the prior year third quarter. Growth in commercial communications and 5G was offset by a decline in aerospace, defense and government.

  • Electronic Industrial Solutions Group (EISG) revenue was $218 million in the third quarter, up 14 percent when compared to $191 million in the third quarter of 2016. EISG growth was driven by strong demand for general electronics, semiconductor, and automotive and energy solutions.
  • Ixia Solutions Group (ISG) revenue was $120 million in the third quarter. ISG revenue was impacted by continued challenging market conditions with its network equipment manufacturers customers in the U.S., while demand for visibility and application and security solutions was strong among service provider customers.
  • Services Solutions Group (SSG) revenue in the third quarter grew 4 percent year-over-year to $107 million when compared with $103 million in the third quarter of 2016. Services growth was driven by remarketed solution sales.


See also