Monday, January 5, 2015

Blueprint: Collaboration to Drive Telecoms Market in 2015

2015 looks set to be another fascinating one for the telecoms sector as we begin to see the next stage of evolution in services and business models. Following the rapid adoption of LTE, we are likely to see an increasing number of operators further developing their offering and introducing VoLTE, LTE roaming and other advanced 4G services.

OTTs and MVNOs are also looking to expand their portfolios and customer reach by breaking out of their silos and moving into more mainstream telecoms services. The current market evolution has created a scenario where, in order to deliver the optimum customer experience and maximise revenue, the sector as a whole needs to break out of their individual mind-sets and adopt a more collaborative approach.

For instance, in order to deliver quality of experience and reach their goal of breaking out of their silo-based models and widen the range of services they provide, OTT players must engage with both operators and infrastructure providers to take advantage of their footprint and network services.

Mobile operators too must collaborate in order to provide a range of interoperable services normally associated with OTT providers, including file transfer and VoIP services. Many operators have already recognised the value in offering enhanced messaging services, usually the realm of the Internet players, with RCS adoption. There are encouraging signs widescale adoption is not far away. Recently, BICS conducted a survey of industry executives on their attitudes and plans for RCS adoption and found that two thirds of operators were looking to go live by the end of 2015.

In Europe, further adjustments to roaming charges and other regulations are expected, which will further open up the telecoms market. This will give way to a number of new niche MVNOs founded on innovative roaming-only premises. For carriers, these regulatory developments will offer opportunities to improve roaming monetisation through the launch of enhanced roaming services such as tailored packages for specific customer types. This will further stimulate usage as consumers receive a higher-quality user experience relevant to their needs.

Commercial LTE services are now available in over 100 countries according to GSA figures announced in October, and many suppliers have extended this commitment to offering customers the highest data speeds wherever they are in the world by introducing LTE roaming agreements. In 2015, we can expect this trend to continue and the widespread use of further enhanced services, including HD Voice and VoLTE.

The enhanced user experience brought about by next generation new voice services will invigorate the voice market, enabling operators to better monetise voice.

With market consolidation continuing and so many dynamic factors in play those who succeed will need to have a compelling offer across the range of services including voice, messaging, GRX and signalling. Operators will also look to their infrastructure providers to offer far more than just the transport network, seeking intelligent services that facilitate monetisation, innovative packages and efficiencies.

To satisfy demanding end-users innovation is key. The best way to achieve this is for all the players in the mobile ecosystem to work collaboratively to create benefits for all parties and ultimately the end customer.

About the Author

Daniel Kurgan is CEO of BICS SA/NV. He joined Belgacom’s Carrier Division at the start of the carrier's commercial operations in January 1997, where he held several positions including International Account Manager, Head of International Relations & Sales, Sales Director (domestic and international wholesale) and VP International Wholesale, in charge of Sales & Marketing, Buying & LCR, and Customer Service and Network. In 2005 Daniel was VP Commercial of BICS, and contributed to the spin-off of Belgacom’s international carrier business.

Daniel graduated from the Solvay Business School of the University of Brussels.

About BICS

BICS delivers best-in-class international wholesale solutions to any communication service provider worldwide. Through its Mosaic portfolio, a comprehensive, flexible and innovative suite of solutions designed to be used individually, or collectively, BICS meets the existing and future requirements of the global telecoms industry. BICS is headquartered in Brussels with regional offices in Bern, Dubai, Madrid, New York and Singapore.

Got an idea for a Blueprint column?  We welcome your ideas on next gen network architecture.
See our guidelines.

AT&T Developer Summit: SDN, NFV, IoT and WebRTC

 AT&T is the first U.S. carrier to launch support for Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC).  The announcement, which was made at the annual AT&T Developer Summit in Las Vegas, paves the way for voice and video calling from web browsers to mobiles and landlines without the need to install any software or plugins. The AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API is now available in an open beta program and offers several enhancements to the basic WebRTC standard.

Some highlights from AT&T Developer Summit and keynotes:

  • Software-defined networking will drive the biggest transformation at AT&T in 30-years, said John Donovan, Senior Vice President, AT&T Technology and Operations. He said the open movement is essential to AT&T's networking strategy, especially OpenStack, which is now deployed in 20 sites. Donovan also confirmed a 5-year, $5 million commitment to back ON.Lab's open source, SDN Open Network Operating System (ONOS) for Service Providers.
  • The AT&T NetBond ecosystem now includes 11 cloud service providers and is part of the AT&T Mobile Cloud. Sungard Availability Services and Blue Jeans Network are the newest AT&T NetBond members. Sungard AS will manage, backup, and recover data and applications. Blue Jeans Network will give people the tools they need to collaborate over video, virtually whenever and wherever.
  • AT&T is expanding its Digital Life home automation services with new products from Lutron Electronics, Samsung, Qualcomm Life, and LG Electronics.
  • Lutron Electronics will offer devices such as window shades and lighting controls, that can be programmed through the Digital Life app. Samsung Techwin’s newest Wi-Fi IP camera will also be added to the Digital Life camera automation offerings, providing high-quality images with Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), Samsung Light Enhancer (SLE) technology and advanced motion detection to reduce false alerts.  Qualcomm Life’s 2net Platform and Hub is a medical-grade device connectivity platform and standalone gateway that allows customers to seamlessly transmit biometric data such as blood pressure or weight, via the Digital Life app.  LG’s webOS Smart TV’s with AllJoyn capabilities could receive notifications and alerts from the Digital Life system - such as if someone is at the front door or even be alerted if there is a leak in their basement.
  • AT&T Work Platform extends BYOD functionality by allowing specific data allotments and services to be charged to an enterprise while personal services on the device remain unchanged.  This reduces the need to manually calculate employee stipends for personal devices. AT&T is working with MobileIron, AirWatch by VMware, and Good Technology to enable such capabilities.
  • AT&T announced the commercial availability of the M2X Data Service, its first Internet of Things (IoT) managed service for developers.  The company also unveiled a Beta Version of AT&T Flow Designer, which is a new cloud-based visual development tool aimed at speeding the development time required to build new IoT applications. Typical IoT-focused solutions can be complex as they require application integrations at the device, network and application layers.
  • Subaru of America is the latest car company to join the AT&T Drive program for automotive connectivity.S TARLINK is the Subaru in-vehicle platform that provides hands-free connectivity, entertainment, and safety services to Subaru vehicle occupants. Subaru will offer owners STARLINK with a built-in AT&T 4G LTE communications module capable of offering features including stolen vehicle recovery, automatic collision notification, remote vehicle services such as lock/unlock via a smartphone device and monthly vehicle health reports. 
  • There were more than 4,000 attendees at the AT&T Developer Summit.

NTT Com Opens REST API Gateway to Customers

NTT Communications activated a new API Gateway that enables customers and partner companies to use their own systems to directly view and control information to operate and maintain business services. The API Gateway, which leverages NTT Com's network and cloud services, is available from delivery centers in Japan, the USA and Europe.

Initially, the following NTT Com services will be compatible with the new gateway: Arcstar Universal One, Arcstar Universal One Virtual, and Arcstar Universal One Mobile Global M2M, Enterprise Cloud, Cloudn, Nexcenter colocation, Arcstar UCaaS (Unified Communication), Arcstar SIP Trunking (External telephone), and Enterprise Mail.

NTT said the chief advantage of an API Gateway is that it les corporate customers to use NTT Com services faster and more efficiently.  The gateway standardizes API specifications for NTT Com services and simplifies deployment on the systems of customers and partners by leveraging the REST API and OAuth industry standards. Information on specifications and deployment will be readily available through a developers' portal. The gateway has multilayered security, including Web Application Firewalls, protection against DDoS attacks and unauthorized API access.

The gateway is offered to NTT Com customers and partners who use the NTT Communications Business Portal. There is no charge to use the gateway. Interfaces in Japanese and English are available.

SK Telecom Activates World’s First Tri-band LTE-A Service

SK Telecom activated the world's first commercial tri-band LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service, boasting downlink speeds of up to 300 Mbps by aggregating three component carriers in three different frequency bands: 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band, 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band, and 10MHz bandwidth in 2.1GHz band.

At peak speed, the service is capable of downloading a 1GB movie in only 28 seconds.

In order to provide tri-band LTE-A service, base stations that support three different frequency bands are required and all three component carriers must intersect.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE is the first tri-band LTE-A capable device.

SK Telecom said that since it has already secured Wideband LTE-A coverage in the main areas of all cities across South Korea - meaning that it already has in place 800MHz and 1.8GHz base stations - it can offer tri-band LTE-A service by simply adding 2.1GHz base stations. The company plans to build more than 26,000 2.1GHz base stations within the first quarter of 2015 to provide its customers with the fastest mobile telecommunications service in Seoul/ Seoul Metropolitan Area, central areas of all cities nationwide as well as all subway lines in Korea.

SK Telecom also has plans for 4-band and 5-band carrier aggregation on its roadmap to realizing 5G service.

Broadcom Speeds Wi-Fi Forward with 4x4 MU-MIMO Chip

Broadcom debuted new 802.11ac chips for high performance and mass market retail routers, wireless cable/DSL/PON gateways and set-top boxes (STBs).

The new BCM4366 incorporates multiple 802.11ac Wave 2 features, including a MU-MIMO implementation, which delivers up to a 4x speed boost, and optimizations for broadcast-quality video.

Some key features:

  • NitroQAM modulation for higher peak throughput
  • Capable of 8x8 5G WiFi XStream configuration with 8 client MU-MIMO support
  • Dedicated hardware for enhancing video distribution while maintaining best-in-class data performance
  • Enhanced receiver performance in the presence of interference for better range
  • Enables 160MHz aggregation for mobile devices taking upload and download speeds to the next level
  • Zero Wait DFS allows access points to connect to more 5 GHz channels and achieve higher capacity to deliver better performance

The new portfolio also includes the BCM53573 and BCM47189 dual-band 2x2 5G WiFi SoCs for affordable and mid-tier residential routers, wireless repeaters, power line and MOCA Wi-Fi bridges. These two new SoCs are the first to integrate a 2x2 802.11ac radio on a single chip with a CPU and Ethernet switch, which reduces cost while delivering the powerful benefits of 5G WiFi to the entry-level segment.

"Broadcom continues to deliver the industry's highest performing 5G WiFi solutions," said Manny Patel, Broadcom Director, Wireless Connectivity. "The new 4x4 5G WiFi MU-MIMO architecture enables our customers to design faster, higher capacity, longer range access points that are equipped to address the growing number of connected devices in the home and continued demand for high quality wireless video streaming."

New ETSI Group Focuses on Millimetre Wave Transmission

ETSI has created a new Industry Specification Group (ISG) to work on millimetre Wave Transmission (mWT) in the 30GHz to 300GHz range, where there is one order of magnitude of more spectrum available in this band than in lower bands.

Specifically, ETSI’s new Industry Specification Group on millimetre Wave Transmission (ISG mWT) will facilitate the use of the V-band (57-66 GHz), the E-band (71-76 & 81-86 GHz) and, in the future, higher frequency bands (up to 300 GHz) for large volume backhaul and fronthaul applications to support mobile network implementation, wireless local loop and any other service benefitting from high speed wireless transmission. The first meeting will be held this month.

Huawei: 2014 Sales Expected to Hit US46 Billion, up 15%

Huawei's 2014 sales revenue were expected to reach US$46 billion in 2014, an increase of over 15% year-on-year, according to a New Year message posted by Ken Hu, Huawei's Rotating CEO.

A key area of progress over the past year has been the consolidation of the company's SoftCOM telecom network architecture, deeply integrating the concepts of cloud computing, Software-defined Networking (SDN), and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). Hu said these solutions "will reshape the telecom industry in four areas: services, operations, network functions, and network architecture. We have helped carriers with their comprehensive businesses transformation and network evolution."  Hu also highlighted the company's Service-driven Distributed Cloud Data Center solution; its OceanStor converged storage system, its IoT-oriented agile gateway; and its agile data center networking and agile branch solutions.

Looking forward to 2015, Hu discusses on-going structural changes inside the company along with efforts to "glocalize" operations in the 170 countries and regions in which Huawei operates.