Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mobile World Congress Topped 93,000 Attendees

This week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona set a new attendance record for the event -- over 93,000 attendees from 200 countries.

The 2015 Mobile World Congress featured more than 2,000 exhibiting companies across 100,000 net square metres of exhibition and hospitality space. More than 3,800 international media and industry analysts attended the event.

“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we are gratified by the record-breaking success we’ve seen this year,” said John Hoffman, CEO, GSMA Ltd.

Blueprint: Catch the Customers While You Can!

by Lars Mansson, Senior Director of Product Management and Strategy at DigitalRoute

The American entertainer Milton Berle once remarked, “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.”  Berle has never been known as a telco BSS visionary, but apply his thinking to the legacy stack and his advice is right on the money. Except, instead of a door, you build an online counting system (for which the door is simply a metaphor).

Why do this? Because the road to commercial opportunity for mobile CSPs today runs through a much-needed new approach to billing strategy.

Software vendors have become fond in recent years of claiming that the inherent complexity of modern telecom services drives a parallel requirement for complexity in the enabling solutions they sell. However, their argument that CSPs must rely on complex software to monetize complex services is false. In fact, unnecessary IT complexity simply traps CSPs into slow, expensive solutions. Thus, while many vendors are trying to lock the door behind their products, the telco would be better off to do what Berle suggests: build a new door.

A quick review of progressive use cases underlines this theory. In reality, the complexity in today’s telco market, such as it is, exists almost entirely on the side of the ledger of the service provider (SP). Software needn’t come into it (something any number of modern use cases proves).

Let’s consider an example: An operator wants to “push” a service package, or bundle, of the sort favored by much of the industry. The exact offering is tailored to the subscriber’s historic usage figures. It provides a mix of voice, data and text that subscribers are known to use. Knowledge of past behavior gives our operator an insight into the sort of service offer to which subscribers are likely to be responsive.

So far, so good. A subscriber accepts the bundle offer, but to differentiate this competitor’s similar offerings, our operator, rather than push for top-ups once various service limits have been met (as is common in saturated markets), decides it would be more valuable to pursue a different sort of upgrade strategy, one that will make the SP stand out from the competition.

Why do this? For one thing, because our operator knows (or at least suspects) that his average customers often have a bit of spare money in their pocket and might be willing to buy something else he has to sell, like a networked movie that could be watched on the subway to work. Plus, our operator knows that his rivals aren’t taking this sort of reactive and creative approach (because, not having listened to Berle, they haven’t built a door to grab the opportunity).

To exploit the potential hidden here, our operator decides he needs to offer his customers a flexible and not a “hard stop bundle/package” service like everyone else. Increased market share and a reduced churn rate are suddenly within reach, but the time has come to get the door building equipment out.

The door is represented by software functionality that executes in a far cleverer way than service-enabling software has in the past. Data usage is smoothed over a time period by capacity/bandwidth control. If usage patterns repeat, then upgrade options may yet come into play, but the operator doesn’t cut off or hard-throttle customers at their consumption limits. Instead, the SP makes sure customers get a ration of connectivity spread over the whole month: a theoretical win-win for all parties.

The operator also takes advantage of the opportunity to apply a “floating bundle” concept.  Here, if the subscriber’s voice minutes are nearly consumed but data in the package is largely untouched, the SMS will offer the subscriber either the chance to buy more voice minutes or to move unused data consumption balances to the voice product. The text reads, “We can convert 1 GB of unused data to 2 hours of national calls, answer YES.”

If this sounds complicated—and most BSS vendors would like you to believe it is—then the good news is that it isn’t. The new door is, in fact, amazingly simple to use. It has a handle. It opens. It shuts. It handles a lot of traffic quickly. And in relative terms, it’s cheap. In fact, this door is the sort of customer-responsive, creative service offering that can be enabled by offloading rather than expensively augmenting the already costly BSS legacy stack.

Everything described above can be achieved through what is becoming known as a Usage Management (Service Control) BSS strategy that offloads thick traditional BSS in favor of smart, agile and lean implementations.

If we’re being literal, Usage Management can best be thought of as pre-configured use cases (rather than a metaphorical door). It manifests itself in the IT stack as a service delivery and execution engine designed to support CSPs where usage bundles form the core of a competitive strategy. The approach, which enables an outcome widely identified as “lean billing” is based around three central features:

  • Easy configuration allows pricing models to quickly be monetized and managed in simple buckets, bypassing costly changes to, or even direct involvement with, legacy rating and billing.
  • Through total subscriber control via a holistic data layer that is system- and silo-agnostic, a better end-user experience is delivered to the customer.
  • Quicker times to market due to both the inherent configurability of the approach itself and the ability to offload unwieldy BSS components otherwise relied on within the execution stack.

There are, of course, times where complex BSS functionality is required to support complex services. One obvious example is with enterprise billing. Such offerings are very much the exception rather than the billing rule. More commonly, far more than half of regularly accessed telecom services can be monetized simply by taking advantage of a “lean” BSS approach. The only losers when this happens are the software vendors who encourage their customers to slam the door of potential in their own faces! This, as we all now know, is neither wise nor necessary.

About the Author
Lars Mansson is DigitalRoute’s senior director of product management and strategy. In this role, he is the owner of the company's product portfolio, go-to-market and the long-term development of its products & solutions as well as its product strategy, roadmap and thought leadership. Lars has a background in technical pre sales and was previously a system architect and technical coordinator for mediation systems at Tele2 in Sweden.

About DigitalRoute

DigitalRoute has been providing new approaches to enterprise data management since 1999. Its software platform offers high throughput and provides a unique degree of user configurability, processing all usage and statistical data extracted from the networks, including both billable and non-billable events. Over 300 leading companies worldwide actively use DigitalRoute technology to meet their data management needs, including a number of OEM partners who use our platform as a central part of their own offerings. DigitalRoute is built on the core values of Expertise, Open- Mindedness and Commitment. DigitalRoute is a venture-backed, privately held company with a turnover of 30m EUR in 2013 and a record of profitability since 2005. With close to 200 employees, the company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with regional offices in Gothenburg, Atlanta, and Kuala Lumpur.

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Qualcomm Adds LTE modes to Snapdragon Automotive Set

Qualcomm has added two LTE modems to its Snapdragon Automotive Solutions portfolio.

The Snapdragon X12 LTE modem (9x40) is designed to enable auto manufacturers to develop next-generation systems with advanced telematics and connected infotainment features while supporting greater coverage at download speeds up to Category 10 (up to 450 Mbps in the downlink and 100 Mbps in the uplink). The Snapdragon X5 LTE modem (9x28) is designed to enable automakers to broadly deploy LTE in all cars at download speeds up to Category 4 (up to 150 Mbps in the downlink and 50 Mbps in the uplink).

In addition to LTE, both modems support all major 3G/2G cellular standards and offer on-chip integration of global position (GNSS) support for all major constellation.  They also feature a 1 GHz processor with Linux and built-in software for key global regulatory mandates like EU eCall and ERA Glonass. They can be matched with a companion Qualcomm VIVE QCA65x4 chipset with Wi-Fi/BT to support consumer features like Wi-Fi 802.11ac hotspots and safety applications like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) with a seamless combination of Wi-Fi, DSRC and LTE.

“The effect of LTE on connected telematics and infotainment inside the car is transformational, rivaling the one from feature phones to smartphones,” added Singh. “Ubiquitous connectivity to cars is enabling industries like automotive, wireless operators, and insurance to come together in unlocking value for consumers. In addition, the cars of tomorrow will not only inform and entertain the consumer, but also communicate with their environment to make driving safer, which is accomplished through system level integration across infotainment, telematics and connectivity subsystems of the vehicle. The X12 and X5 are designed with this integration as a requirement, so we can support the vision of getting these capabilities into all cars.”

Crehan: Sales of Branded Data Center Switches Continue to Grow

Customer deployments of branded data center Ethernet switches grew ten percent in 2014, a slight increase over the 2013 growth rate, despite an increase in white box switch offerings, according to the most recent data center switch report from Crehan Research Inc.

 Crehan’s report further shows that branded Ethernet switch shipments in the high-speed top-of-rack, or fixed, segment – where white box switch offerings are most prevalent – increased by almost 40% in 2014 (see accompanying chart).

“Most of the white box and ODM-direct switch market volume is still driven by a few of the very large, hyper-scale cloud service providers, and its growth has remained largely a function of these few service providers building out their data center networks," said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research. "Over the past few years, the branded data center switch vendors have really narrowed the gap on the perceived advantages of white box switches," he said. “Although it varies by vendor, this has included lowering prices significantly, incorporation of more merchant silicon, offering more programmability and SDN features, disaggregation of hardware and software, and bringing open compute and networking designs to market."

Some highlights from Crehan's report:

  • 40 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) data center switch shipments more than tripled, while revenues more than doubled.
  • 10GBASE-T data center switching rapidly expanded in 2014, exiting the year with an annual run rate of over two million ports.
  • Despite steep price declines in some of the individual data center Ethernet switch segments, overall market pricing remained relatively stable in 2014 due to greater adoption of higher-speed switches, which carry a price premium.
  • The Fibre Channel switch market returned to revenue growth in 2014, as higher average selling prices more than offset a slight annual shipment decline.

UNH-IOL Hosts Open Networking Component Interoperability Plugfest

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) hosted the first interoperability plugfest for open networking last month to validate the multi-vendor compatibility of optical transceivers and cables with bare-metal open switches running Networking Operating Systems (NOS) software.

"This is a very important milestone in the open networking movement" said Bob Thurston, Director of Integrated Engineering from Fidelity Investments. "Customers will soon be able to purchase open networking equipment with confidence that entire solutions can be assembled and will operate as expected."

Qualcomm Intros Ultrasonic Fingerprint Authentication

Qualcomm is introducing 3D fingerprint authentication that uses ultrasonic technology to directly penetrate the outer layers of skin, detecting three-dimensional details and unique fingerprint characteristics, including fingerprint ridges and sweat pores. Compared to existing capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies the company said it is able to achieve government-grade biometric solutions because the scan will be extremely difficult to spoof.

QTI’s ultrasonic fingerprint technology has a number of distinct advantages over capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies, including the ability to scan through a smartphone cover that is made of glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics.

“Mobile devices increasingly store our most valuable and sensitive information, while passwords alone do not provide the protection consumers deserve,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, QTI. “Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology’s unique use of ultrasonic technology revolutionizes biometrics from 2D to 3D, allowing for greater accuracy, privacy and stronger authentication. We are very proud to bring the mobile industry’s first ultrasonic-based biometric authentication technology to mobile device manufacturers and their customers, who will benefit from the improved and differentiated user experience.”

Ciena Posts Revenue of $529.2 Million

Ciena reported revenue of $$529.2 million for its fiscal first quarter 2015.  This compares with $533.7 million for the fiscal first quarter 2014.

Ciena's net loss (GAAP) for the fiscal first quarter 2015 was $(18.8) million, or $(0.17) per diluted common share, which compares to a GAAP net loss of $(15.9) million, or $(0.15) per diluted common share, for the fiscal first quarter 2014.

“Our first quarter performance is highlighted by continued customer diversification, an expanding portfolio, and strong profitability. While order timing and foreign exchange headwinds impacted revenue in the quarter, we delivered improved gross margin and excellent operating profit," said Gary B. Smith, president and CEO of Ciena.

Ericsson and Telefónica Extend NFV Research Pact

Ericsson and Telefónica renewed a joint research pact originally made in 2013 to focuses on SDN and NFV.

The two companies have set up of a multi-vendor cloud environment to test Ericsson virtualized network functions (VNFs) on top of a cloud infrastructure, including the possibility of using Ericsson VNF Orchestrator.  A key long-term ambition for both companies is also to work together on the operational model definition for virtualization in telecommunications, IT and B2B.

"The co-operation that we entered into with Ericsson in 2013 has been very fruitful, and we are excited to continue the great work we have done together and begin to implement some of our findings. At Telefónica, we are convinced that network virtualization will help to improve TCO efficiency and improve our service agility."

Ericsson and KT Sign 5G Research MoU

At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson and KT agreed to collaborate in 5G network architecture, small cells and heterogeneous networks.

"5G will be a key component in the industry's movement toward the Networked Society. KT is an early driver of technology, and we believe that the collaboration with KT will provide benefits to users and to industries. With ultra-high bit rates of more than 10 Gbps, we will deliver radio network capability of more than 1,000 times today's LTE networks," stated Thomas Norén, Vice President and Head of Radio Product Management, Ericsson.