Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Verizon will not use tax cut windfall to increase network investments

Verizon Communications reported revenues in fourth-quarter 2017 of $34.0 billion, up 5.0 percent from fourth-quarter 2016. Net income was $18.8 billion in fourth-quarter 2017. EBITDA totaled approximately $9.2 billion.The company reported EPS of $4.56, compared with $1.10 in fourth-quarter 2016. On an adjusted basis (non-GAAP), fourth-quarter 2017 EPS was 86 cents, compared with 86 cents in fourth-quarter 2016.

Verizon said the recently passed tax-reform legislation will have a positive impact to cash flow from operations in 2018 of approximately $3.5 billion to $4 billion, which it plans to strengthen its balance sheet -- not for increased network CAPEX or increased wages.

Full-year consolidated revenues declined approximately 2 percent in 2017 to $126.0 billion, compared with 2016. For full-year 2017, Verizon reported $7.36 in EPS, compared with $3.21 in full-year 2016. In 2017, Verizon made $9.5 billion in cash dividend payments to shareholders.

“Verizon finished 2017 with great momentum, led by some of the best customer growth and loyalty results Verizon Wireless has delivered in recent years,” said Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam.

“In 2018 we look to drive long-term shareholder value by deploying next-generation network services, leveraging global platforms such as Oath, and using our strategic Humanability approach to turn innovative ideas into realities.”

Highlights for the quarter

  • Oath, Verizon’s media business, generated revenues of $2.2 billion in fourth-quarter 2017, up approximately 10 percent from third-quarter 2017, driven by increased customer advertising spending during the holidays. 
  • In telematics, revenues were more than $230 million in fourth-quarter 2017. IoT revenues increased approximately 17 percent year over year, and 8 percent on an organic basis (non-GAAP).

Wireless results

  • Verizon reported a net increase of 1.2 million retail postpaid connections in fourth-quarter 2017. 
  • Net phone additions of 431,000 included 647,000 smartphones, compared with 456,000 smartphone additions in fourth-quarter 2016. 
  • Total retail postpaid net adds in fourth-quarter 2017 included 193,000 tablet and 550,000 other connected device net adds, led by wearables.
  • Added 40,000 customer accounts in Q4. The company ended 2017 with 116.3 million total retail connections -- 110.9 million postpaid connections and 5.4 million prepaid connections.
  • Total retail postpaid churn was 1.00 percent in fourth-quarter 2017, a year-over-year improvement of 10 basis points.
  • Total revenues were $23.8 billion in fourth-quarter 2017, an increase of 1.7 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2016 and the company’s first year-over-year wireless revenue growth in two years. 

Wireline results

  • Total wireline revenues increased 0.1 percent year over year in fourth-quarter 2017 and 0.6 percent for the full year.
  • Total wireline revenues declined 3.6 percent year over year in fourth-quarter 2017.
  • Total Fios revenues grew 2.3 percent, and consumer Fios revenues grew 1.7 percent, comparing fourth-quarter 2017 with fourth-quarter 2016.
  • In fourth-quarter 2017, Verizon added a net of 47,000 Fios Internet connections and lost a net of 29,000 Fios Video connections, continuing to reflect the shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings. 
  • At year-end 2017, Verizon had 5.9 million Fios Internet connections and 4.6 million Fios Video connections.
  • Wireline operating income was $62 million in fourth-quarter 2017, and segment operating income margin was 0.8 percent. 

Metaswitch's MaX delivers multi-persona collaboration for mobiles

Metaswitch introduced a communications and collaboration product family for mobile operators that delivers multi-persona call capabilities through the mobile native dialer.

The carrier-grade Metaswitch MaX platform lets mobile operators offer an add-on service where the customer can separate business and personal calling identities through the same service and with one device.

MaX can be deployed in three versions:

  • MaX Business allows micro and small businesses to take advantage of MaX’s shared voice and messaging capabilities to connect better with customers. This enables a group of employees with disparate mobile devices to interface with their customers through a common business number and to instantly collaborate internally via business information feeds and channels, thereby maximizing business efficiency, customer satisfaction and lead conversion.
  • MaX Family allows mobile-equipped families to create a familiar “fixed line” experience across any number of discrete mobile devices, complete with private message and collaboration feeds and the ability to create disposable numbers and temporary identities. 
  • MaX Prosumer allows individuals currently juggling multiple phones or SIM cards to be well- served by MNOs that can now deliver a sophisticated multi-persona solution across one or more personal devices.

MaX is currently in early trials with multiple mobile operators.

“We developed MaX by Metaswitch from the ground up for mobile network operators, recognizing the pain points of millions of users worldwide who are simply seeking a better mobile experience,” said Ian Maclean, CMO at Metaswitch. “Until now, these users have been forced to rely on over-the-top applications, none of which provide the functionality that MaX offers and all of which bypass the mobile operator’s core voice network. Mobile operators now can provide compelling new alternatives to OTT applications with a platform that serves ongoing innovation and revenue generation.”

Digital Realty data centers provide direct tap to the Oracle Cloud

Digital Realty is adding dedicated and private access to Oracle Cloud through Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) FastConnect in 14 major metropolitan areas: Ashburn, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley.  Digital Realty has a total of 59 data centers in these 14 markets.

Access to OCI is being made available through Digital Realty's Service Exchange, which is an interconnection platform that facilitates direct, private and secure connections from clients in its data center to multiple cloud service providers. Digital Realty's Service Exchange already provides access to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure – as well as telecommunications providers and other Digital Realty customers worldwide. The switching platform is powered by Megaport's elastic, SDN-based Ethernet fabric. An online portal enables Digital Realty customers to actively manage multiple virtual private connections ("Virtual Cross Connects") to cloud operators and service providers.

Oracle's cloud occupies more than 500,000 square feet across 16 Digital Realty locations.

"Customers require seamless connectivity from their data centers and networks to Oracle Cloud for their most demanding workloads and applications," said Don Johnson, Senior Vice President Product Development, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.  "With Oracle's FastConnect service via Digital Realty, customers can provision the dedicated and private connections they need today and easily scale with their growing business demands."

"Our direct connections to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure build upon our commitment to ensure that our customers have interconnected access to the critical IT resources they need to drive business success," said Digital Realty Chief Technology Officer Chris Sharp.  "The rapid growth of Oracle Cloud is a testament to its strength in the marketplace, and we are extremely pleased to be working closely with Oracle to accelerate its momentum."

Tech Mahindra looks to AT&T FlexWare for #SDN and #NFV connectivity

Tech Mahindra will make available AT&T FlexWare global network infrastructure available to its global clients. Tech Mahindra will use AT&T Flexfare internally as well.

AT&T FlexWare is a global network infrastructure solution that supports virtual network functions (VNFs) on a single device, reducing dependence on physical network appliances.

Tech Mahindra intends to combine AT&T FlexWare with its System Integration and Services Portfolio, and offer the solutions to its global clientele who are undergoing digital transformation. 

Ashish Julka, senior vice president, Tech Mahindra said, “This is another significant milestone in our strategic relationship with AT&T. AT&T FlexWare is a state of the art product which we believe delivers significant value to enterprise customers in their network transformation journey. With Tech Mahindra’s strengths in System Integration combined with a transformative solution from AT&T, it is a win-win for all stakeholders.”

AT&T enhances FlexWare NFV solution and expands availability worldwide

AT&T announced new network connectivity options and security applications for its FlexWare offering, and that it is increasing availability to cover more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

The AT&T FlexWare platform is designed to simplify the delivery and deployment of software-based network functions for business customers. Using the service, businesses can flexibly manage their networks, reduce total costs of ownership and avoid the requirement of utilising proprietary hardware-based solutions. AT&T noted that within a year of launch, over 2,000 FlexWare devices have been sold worldwide to a variety of businesses, both large and small.

With the new enhancements, AT&T FlexWare provides the benefits of network function virtualisation (NFV) to businesses with a broader range of connection types. Specifically, FlexWare now features a range of connectivity options via both AT&T and third party service providers, with options including Ethernet, VPN (MPLS), dedicated Internet and broadband.

In addition, AT&T is adding three new virtual security options for FlexWare. Ads well as Fortinet self-managed and AT&T-managed firewall options, the company has partnered with other companies to offer new software-defined security options as follows: Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform (either AT&T- or self-managed); Juniper Networks vSRX Virtual Firewall (self-managed); and Check Point vSEC (self-managed).

  • Separately, Ericsson announced that it is rolling out availability of AT&T FlexWare across its global corporate network to locations including the U.S., Latin America, Middle East and Europe. Ericsson noted that by virtualising its network services using FlexWare it can adapt its network to changing business needs in near real-time, while lowering its cost of network ownership.
  • In addition to the deployment of AT&T FlexWare, Ericsson stated that it is also expanding the reach of its global AT&T managed VPN solution.

Xtera selected for ARBR subsea cable from Brazil to Argentina

Xtera will supply its subsea optical transmission system for the ARBR submarine fibre optic cable system, which is a fully-funded project developed jointly by Seaborn Networks and the Werthein Group.  The 2,700 km open system, 4-fibre pair, 48Tbps, direct PoP-to-PoP subsea cable will connect Argentina and Brazil. The ARBR subsea cable system will allow for direct onward connectivity to New York, via the new Seabras-1 system.

Specifically, the ARBR subsea cable system will utilize Xtera’s submarine repeaters with hybrid EDFA-Raman design. When combined with Xtera’s Open Systems Gateway, this transmission system will provide Seaborn Networks and its customers with freedom of choice for the selection of its preferred terminal supplier.  All these elements, including the Power Feed Equipment, are tightly monitored and managed by Xtera’s Network Management Systems.

“This award further consolidates Xtera’s position as a strong player in the regional submarine market segment and is a significant endorsement of Xtera’s differentiated product offering,” says Stuart Barnes, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Xtera. “Our four pillars of product and service offerings encompass subsea systems technologies, wet and dry upgrades, IP licensing, and OEM / specialist units to selected markets.  Xtera is further defined by its flexible approach to system-partnering and contracting structures that ensure the best value for investment and a solution aligned to each customer’s need.”

“We are thrilled by the opportunity to work with Seaborn Networks on this exciting project,” comments Robert Richardson, Chief Sales Officer, Xtera.  “We pride ourselves on being market disruptors and innovators, and we see these same characteristics in Seaborn.  It is especially rewarding to work with a kindred spirit company, and very satisfying to see a company such as Seaborn making use of our available technology to provide the market with a truly compelling offer.”

Seaborn and Grupo Werthein to build Argentina-Brazil Subsea Cable

Seaborn Networks, an independent developer-owner-operator of submarine cable systems, and Grupo Werthein, a major Argentine investment holding company with significant holdings in the telecommunications sector, announced a binding agreement for the construction of a new subsea optical cable system, named ARBR, connecting Argentina with Brazil.

The new ARBR cable system will additionally provide onward connectivity via Seabras-1, which is currently under construction, to enable a direct route between Argentina and the U.S. The ARBR system will be jointly developed and owned by Seabras Group, an affiliate of Seabras, and Werthein.

Seabras is the sole owner of the Seabras-1 submarine cable system between New York and Sao Paulo in Brazil, which was developed and is operated and owned by Seaborn Networks, in partnership with funds managed and/or advised by Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager.

Seabras noted that it has sold capacity on Seabras-1 to a variety of large and small telecommunications companies and other customers, both via indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) and on short-term lease agreements. As with Seabras-1, Seaborn will act as the operator of the ARBR system. Seabras stated that together the ARBR and Seabras-1 cables represent a total project value of more than $575 million.

The ARBR cable will be a four-fibre pair system with and will offer an initial maximum design capacity of 48 Tbit/s. The system has a scheduled completion date in the second half of 2018. The ARBR cable system's Brazil landing will be located in the existing Seabras-1 cable landing station in Praia Grande, Brazil, enabling direct onward connectivity to New York over Seabras-1. The Argentina landing for the new cable is expected to be in or near Las Toninas, to the south of Buenos Aires.

Netronome offers SmartNIC accelerator for Dell's NFV server

Netronome's Agilio 25GbE SmartNICs and software are being offered through Dell EMC OEM Solutions in a turnkey NFV server solution that accelerates NFV infrastructure and applications (VNFs) by up to 600 percent.

The Netronome NFV Platform is based on Dell EMC PowerEdge R630 servers with dual, 12-core performance-optimized Xeon processors running at 4.30 GHz. The solution features an Agilio 2x25GbE SmartNIC and is upgradeable with Agilio OVS and vRouter software packages. Agilio SmartNICs incorporate 60 to 120 network processing cores to offload network and security processing from servers, accelerating VNFs and other applications while reducing overall server counts.

Agilio 25GbE SmartNIC platform fully and transparently offloads virtual switch and router datapath processing for networking functions such as overlays, security, load balancing and telemetry, enabling compute servers used for server-based networking and cloud computing to save critical CPU cores for application processing while delivering significantly higher performance.

The companies said the Netronome NFV Platform reduces CAPEX by improving server efficiency by up to 20X over traditional COTS servers.

“Dell EMC servers and Netronome SmartNIC technology make this solution a win-win for service providers and enterprises deploying NFV applications,” said Sujal Das, chief strategy and marketing officer at Netronome. “We are excited about this collaboration and the prospects for expanding Netronome’s leadership in the SmartNIC market.”

“Netronome is a pioneer in network processing and the use of SmartNICs to offload servers for higher efficiency,” said Kevin Shatzkamer, vice president, Dell EMC Service Provider Solutions. “With disaggregation in the traditional network software stack moving to servers running network functions, we believe Dell EMC and Netronome can play a major role.”

Dremio raises $25 million for its data analytics

Dremio, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, announced 25 million in Series B funding for its data analytics solutions.

Dremio said it "simplifies and governs the process of achieving interactive speed on data from any source, at any scale, at any time, through a self-service model delivered on an open source platform." Its solution takes advantage of elastic compute resources as well as object storage such as Amazon S3 for its Data Reflection Store. It can be run as an elastic service in the cloud and on-premises.

Apache Arrow was created by Dremio to provide the core data building block for heterogeneous data infrastructures and tools, including Spark, Python, R, BI, RDBMS, NoSQL, and file systems. Arrow is now the de-facto standard for in-memory analytics, with more than 100,000 downloads a month and adoption across a diverse range of projects.

“Dremio makes data self-service for data consumers in the same way that AWS makes infrastructure self-service for developers, but it benefits more than 10 times as many individuals. We are thrilled about the support and confidence we have received from our customers and investors, and we look forward to continuing to change the way data is harnessed by all companies,” stated Tomer Shiran, co-founder and CEO, Dremio.

The funding round was led by new investor Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investorsLightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures. This brings total funding to $40 million.

Dreamio was founded in 2015 by Tomer Shiran (previously MapR, Microsoft, and IBM) and Jacques Nadeau (creator and PMC Chair of Apache Arrow; previously at MapR where he ran the distributed systems team).

Silicon wars heat up in 2018 - Qualcomm pushes into automotive

by James E. Carroll

You might not expect the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to be a showcase opportunity for silicon players such as Intel, Qualcomm or NVIDIA. After all, Mobile World Congress 2018 opens in Barcelona in less than 50 days and it is here that we expect to see the latest cellular and Wi-Fi technologies. But the race is on to build new ecosystems for autonomous vehicles, smart cities, connected homes, etc.

In the automotive sector, Qualcomm holds a strategic position with its LTE modems which are currently used in millions of 2018 models from most of the major auto manufacturers. Through its Mobileye acquisition, Intel holds a strong position with next-gen sensors for autonomous vehicle functions. Meanwhile, NVIDIA established an early lead with SoC solutions for the digital dashboards and instrument panels of high-end autos, and this is leading to opportunities to become the silicon platform for the AI-powered cockpits of future autonomous vehicles. All of the silicon players are aiming for this goal.

Many are predicting that AI-powered autonomous vehicles will become “smartphones on wheels” or “rolling data centres.” Some forecasts put the amount of data generated by an autonomous vehicle at upwards of 4 TB per day, which is not hard to imagine if each vehicle is equipped with a dozen HD video cameras and multiple LIDARs, not to mention the data consumption needs of multiple passengers each playing with their own entertainment system.

Qualcomm is making  inroads with Ford and BYD

Qualcomm and Ford are collaborating on the development of advanced connectivity systems for vehicles using Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology.

C-V2X is designed to allow vehicles to communicate directly with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, and roadside infrastructure, such as traffic signs and construction zones, without the involvement of a cellular network, or cellular network subscription.

C-V2X field validations are expected to begin in 1H 2018 in San Diego, along with additional trials in Detroit.

Qualcomm's first C-V2X chipset is expected to be commercially available the second half of 2018.

Qualcomm and Ford are also working on automotive telematics platforms with integrated Qualcomm Snapdragon LTE modems.

Qualcomm also announced a major deal with BYD ( "Build Your Dreams"), the Shenzhen-based manufacturer known for its high volume production of electric automobiles, buses, forklifts, rechargeable batteries, trucks, etc., as well as for having attracted a $230 million investment from Warren Buffet back in 2008. BYD’s stock price has been booming as of late, especially after the Chinese government announced plans to phase out fossil fuel cars in favour of EVs.

Over the next few design cycles the requirements for in-vehicle displays are expected to include the need for sufficient bandwidth to stream high-definition videos onto very high-resolution displays, while supporting audio and video streaming from multiple devices through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We already see Teslas, Audis, BMWs and many other cars with large digital displays. BYDs electric cars will have to compete.

Under the deal announced this week at CES, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820A Automotive platform will be used for integrated infotainment and digital cluster systems in electric vehicles starting in 2019. The infotainment and digital cluster systems will be integrated into BYD’s single electronic control unit (ECU).

The Snapdragon 820A Automotive platform consists of customized Qualcomm Kryo CPU, Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP with Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX) and Qualcomm Adreno GPUs. The platform also supports vehicle sensors, which will be key to computer vision and driver assistance systems. Qualcomm is pursuing this too with its Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine.

“As infotainment systems become more relevant in purchase decisions, it is important that automakers are armed with the industry’s most comprehensive and advanced solutions,” said Nakul Duggal, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies.”

Qualcomm Mesh Network for Smart Homes

There is a lot of CES buzz around smart speaker systems for the home, headphones and earbuds with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa on-board. Many are interesting products with the potential to keep millions -- and someday billions—of consumers firmly attached to the digital empires of the hyperscale players. At the networking layer, all of these gizmos will rely on robust home networks. Today, most home set-ups include some sort of broadband modem connected to a single WiFi hotspot. That’s not enough, say the vendors! Why not build an in-home mesh with a WiFi repeater in every room?

Qualcomm Technologies is currently working on mesh networking with a number of start-ups, including Cognitive Systems Corp., Origin Wireless and Lunera.

  • Cognitive Systems offers its “Aura” WiFi Motion technology available for any product based on the Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform.  Aura’s WiFi Motion software enables advanced motion detection using RF motion algorithms and machine learning.
  • Origin Wireless will be using the Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform to further expand their motion-detection, vital sign detection, well-being monitoring and home security software to bring new use cases to their suite of smart home solutions.
  • Lunera, an IoT infrastructure company, will be utilizing the Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform to upgrade the connectivity in their newly announced Lunera Ambient Compute software platform, which can connect billions of IoT devices to the cloud. 

See also