Monday, February 1, 2016

Blueprint: The Path to an All-Wireless World

by Dirk Gates, executive chairman and founder, Xirrus

An all-wireless world is within our grasp. No matter where we go or what device we are on, connectivity is an expectation. Getting on a plane? No problem; Wi-Fi is accessible thousands of feet in the air. Taking a road trip across the U.S.? Pull off at a rest stop and watch Netflix from the passenger seat.

The advancements taking place in the Wi-Fi space are unprecedented and the future of connectivity remains an exciting one. With the surge in video streaming, gaming, IoT devices and bandwidth-consuming applications in general, our networks are being put to the test. The questions we continue to face are vast: Where will Wi-Fi be deployed in the coming years? How will Wi-Fi impact the use of cellular data? What can we expect in terms of evolution in the Wi-Fi spectrum and what challenges will we face? 2016 will see a shift toward an all-wireless world with connectivity moving beyond personal devices, even less cellular data usage, ease of use becoming more important for business users and consumers, and Wave 2 Wi-Fi gaining traction.

Connectivity moves far beyond personal devices

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), in less than five years the number of connected devices is projected to top 25 billion. A movement that is beginning with connected homes, connected cars and sensors everywhere, will evolve to include more autonomous Wi-Fi devices – such as thermostats, lighting controls, security cameras and more – as opposed to personal Wi-Fi devices. The connected home will be a new selling point in real estate.

Voice – particularly Wi-Fi calling – and video will continue to be the largest drivers of traffic, but storage synchronization, and ultimately IoT traffic, will also start to give voice and video a run for their money in 2016.

Wi-Fi has surpassed cellular data and continues to grow

Wi-Fi will never replace cellular data – there will always be a mix of LAN and WAN networks. But Wi-Fi traffic has already surpassed cellular traffic, and this trend will only continue. No one wants to worry about data overages or poor connectivity. In the last several months we’ve seen big travel businesses like hotels, airlines and cruise ships announce free Wi-Fi for guests and travelers. Carriers charge us for every byte of data we send or receive from the Internet so we turn to Wi-Fi when it’s available. As Wi-Fi becomes accessible across even more locations and Wi-Fi calling continues to take hold, expect cellular data to fall further behind in 2016.

Ease of use will be one of the biggest challenges for Wi-Fi

Users expect Wi-Fi at any location. Onboarding these users, however, is not considered an easy feat. In 2016, ease of use will be the primary checklist item for both Wi-Fi vendors to provide and businesses to consume. College campuses, hotels and coffee shops are among the many locations that experience nomadic users connecting and disconnecting from the network regularly. Making a seamless, secure connection from anywhere a reality, without having to put thought into it, is the next major step for the Wi-Fi industry.

Wave 2 will become the norm in 2016

Expect to see 802.11ac Wave 2 become the norm for client devices and the infrastructure in 2016. More and more devices will be Wave 2 compatible and users will want to take advantage of the 5 GHz band to experience greater speed. Not far off, we also have 802.11ax and 60GHz technologies; so don’t expect the 802.11 standards to slow down for a long time.

About the author

Dirk Gates is Executive Chairman & Founder at Xirrus, bringing more than 15 years of executive management experience as well as a track record of success evolving a high-tech startup into a world class, publicly traded company. Having founded Xircom, Inc. in 1988 on the premise of delivering Ethernet connectivity to mobile computers, he attracted venture funding from Greylock, grew the company to 2,000 employees, and achieved revenues of $500 million and a market cap in excess of $2 billion. During his tenure as chairman and CEO, Mr. Gates led Xircom into the wireless arena through partnerships and acquisitions that positioned the company to deliver mobility solutions based on IEEE 802.11, GPRS and Bluetooth technologies. He subsequently negotiated the sale of Xircom to Intel Corporation in March of 2001. Mr. Gates holds a BS in electrical engineering from California State University at Northridge and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

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Nokia Readies LTE-Advanced Pro with 3D Beamforming

Nokia is preparing to showcase 3D Beamforming, 8x4 Intelligent Beamforming, and carrier aggregation combined with advance modulation at this month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  The technologies offer the potential to substantially increase the capacity of both TD-LTE and FDD-LTE networks.

Some highlights:

  • TD-LTE-Advanced Pro 3D Beamforming uses Nokia's Intelligent Beamforming capability to maximize signal levels while also minimizing inter-cell interference by combining vertical and horizontal beamforming. It promises 4-fold uplink and 3-fold downlink throughput gains, measured in outdoor field environments using a commercial base station and devices .
  • Nokia's unique Inter-Site Carrier Aggregation combines TDD and FDD carriers from different base stations located at different sites. This can provide high throughput at the cell edge using existing Release 10 devices.
  • Nokia Intelligent Beamforming now includes 8x4 (8 transmit and 4 receive antennas) capability for TD-LTE that doubles cell edge rates and delivers 50% more average sector throughput. It also implements DL-CoMP (Coordinated MultiPoint) for a 50% increase in cell edge spectral efficiency. The Intelligent Beamforming capabilities are particularly useful with high bands for greater coverage and capacity.
  • Uplink Carrier Aggregation and 64QAM modulation are introduced via software and combined to increase peak data rates in FDD-LTE cells by up to 150 Mbps, three times the maximum uplink speed of typical LTE networks today. This rebalances users' uplink and downlink experiences, following multiple downlink speed increases in LTE-Advanced in recent years. 

 "In addition to providing the most high-performing FDD-LTE and TD-LTE networks today, Nokia is also rapidly developing LTE-Advanced Pro technologies with operators. Nokia's 3D Beamforming, for downlink and uplink, is an early innovation and has been field tested in Hangzhou, China. We are also responding to the need for more capacity by enabling comprehensive aggregation of TDD and FDD LTE networks. With Nokia, operators can be assured that our solutions are field-proven and future-proof," stated Tero Peltola, head of FDD and TDD LTE Product Management at Nokia.

Deutsche Telekom Tests XG-FAST over Copper with Nokia

Deutsche Telekom hit throughput speed of more than 10 Gbps in a trial or Nokia's XG-FAST technology that was conducted at Deutsche Telekom's cable laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany. The trial used two bonded pairs of Category 6 cable at 50 meters in length. Similar tests using standard drop cable illustrated the feasibility of XG-FAST for fiber-to-the-front door applications, achieving aggregate rates that exceed 8Gbps over 50m.  All trials were performed using prototype equipment from Bell Labs under laboratory conditions.

XG-FAST is a Bell Labs-developed extension of Nokia's commercially available technology. The lab trial was conducted end of 2015 by Nokia's subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent.

Deutsche Telekom's network - which uses VDSL2 Vectoring as well as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology - currently offers customers access speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

Nokia said  XG-FAST is in the early stages of lab testing, but has exceeded expectations in trials with several customers so far.

XG-FAST is also capable of delivering 1Gbps symmetrical services at distances of 70m enabling operators to deliver fiber-like speeds inside buildings using existing telephone lines, eliminating the need to install new cabling. This allows for faster installation times and less hassle for the end-user.

"As a global leader in ultra-broadband fixed access we are offering operators a mix of fiber and copper technologies to deploy high-quality services more quickly and cost-effectively. The XG-FAST trial with Deutsche Telekom represents an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to extend the potential of copper for delivering ultra-fast speeds, while also bringing fiber closer to residential and business users," Federico Guillén, President of Fixed Networks, Nokia.

NSFOCUS Stops Massive DDoS Attack for Australia's Micron21

NSFOCUS reported that its Anti-DDoS System (ADS) has been used to mitigate a sustained, 90-Gbps Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attack against Australian service provider Micron21, which offers mission-critical data center capabilities to clients around the world.

NSFOCUS said the January 14th attack started relatively small, then rapidly increased over the course of 30 minutes. It eventually consumed a staggering 23 Terabytes of inbound data in only two hours, before the assailant(s) ceased the DDoS attack. The peak was 90 Gbps. Given the sheer scale of the problem, a full-blown outage would have potentially cost the customer the equivalent of at least $1.3 Million.

“Welcome to the modern world—this is the painful reality for data center operators everywhere, and why it’s absolutely critical for every corner of the industry to have solid DDoS mitigation capabilities in place,” said Allan Thompson, COO at NSFOCUS IB. “We’re honored that NSFOCUS ADS platform played such a vital role in helping Micron21 mitigate this criminal barrage, and we remain committed to developing and offering technologies that help our customers stay vigilant and protected against future attacks.”

Ericsson Says 100 Now Deploying its Radio Dot System

Ericsson noted an important milestone for its iconic Radio Dot small cell solution:  Sichuan Mobile, the largest mobile communications operator in western China, became its 100th Radio Dot System operator.  The operator is targeting office buildings, shopping malls, college campuses and hospitals for improved indoor app coverage.

Since commercial shipments began in Q4 2014, 44 percent of Radio Dot System operators are in Europe, Middle East & Africa, 39 percent are in the Asia Pacific region, and 17 percent are in North or South America.  Another note: 77 percent of Radio Dot Systems have gone live with LTE - almost 10 percent of those support dual-mode LTE and WCDMA on the same Dots.

Ericsson Opens Innovation Center in Rosersberg, Sweden

Ericsson inaugurated a new Global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Center in Rosersberg, Sweden.

The 20,000 square meter facility supports engineering on virtual platforms with global test labs and IT hubs connected via a single virtual environment - supporting Ericsson to host 5G development under one roof.  Ericsson said the new Global ICT Center reflects its ongoing commitment to R&D investment both in Sweden and globally. The center also represents an important step in the company's ongoing ICT transformation journey.

The Global ICT Centers allow Ericsson to emulate an operator's mobile network and to test new solutions as if they were running on a live network. In the near future, Ericsson's customers will be able to connect remotely for interoperability testing, trials, early access and innovation on new offerings from any location. These services will be provided through ten Business-Near Centers, to be announced in 2016, which are connected to the Global ICT Centers.

Ericsson opened a Global ICT Center in Linköping, Sweden in September 2014, which was built adjacent to an existing Ericsson facility. In addition to the two facilities in Sweden, Ericsson will open a Global ICT Center in Montreal, Canada in the second quarter of 2016.

"Through today's inauguration of our second Global ICT Center, Ericsson's vision of a Networked Society moves closer. By streamlining R&D through our cloud-powered Global ICT Centers, we will enable new services and innovations that will create benefits for people, business and society. Our company's ICT transformation journey is accelerating, and the Global ICT Centers will support 24/7 collaboration and ensure we can leverage our global skills and scale to the full. At the same time, with an explosion in data traffic we can bring Ericsson's technology and services leadership to customers faster than ever before," stated Anders Lindblad, Head of Business Unit Cloud and IP, Ericsson.

WhatsApp Now Connects 1 Billion Users

Facebook hit a big milestone:  the WhatsApp's community now has 1 billion users -- more than doubled since getting acquired by Facebook in early 2014.

In a posting, Mark Zuckerberg said the milestone is "an important step towards connecting the entire world."