Monday, February 22, 2016

#MWC16: NGENA Targets Multicarrier NFV Services Enabled by Cisco

A new Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance (“ngena”) plans to launch international network services for business customers in the first half of 2017. Founding members include CenturyLink, Deutsche Telekom, Reliance and SK Telecom. The alliance envisions more than 20 additional service provider partners at full global deployment.

Ngena will provide a global service catalogue to its alliance partners, enabling them to deliver a unique network service experience for enterprise customers – a high performance service in terms of speed, flexibility, security and quality. The alliance will leverage NFV for network efficiency and end-to-end service automation. The alliance partners will be able to deliver full international VPN functionality, Application Performance Management (APM), WAN/LAN management and optimization up to additional built in services such as Unified Communication & Collaboration (UCC), advanced security services, platform APIs for adoption of industry-specific use cases (e.g. WLAN analytics for retail).

Alliance partners will use Cisco's cloud and virtualization technologies.

“Complex individual contracts and ordering processes have no place in a digitized world. Services based alone on the public Internet are not secure or reliable enough for real-time applications such as logistics, manufacturing and telemedicine. A network without sufficient service quality is a risk that customers do not want to take. That’s why our alliance aims to provide multinational enterprise customers with a secure, powerful, global network service faster than before,” said Timotheus Höttges, CEO Deutsche Telekom AG.

“In today’s digital economy, strategic partnerships are more critical than ever to drive fast innovation. NGENA is a pioneering alliance among leading Service Providers to deliver globally consistent, cost-effective and flexible services, allowing them to deliver better experiences at a faster pace. Cisco is committed to the success of our Service Provider customers and is honored to play a part in connecting them across global boundaries, which will allow businesses and their customers to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunities in the digitized world,” said Chuck Robbins, CEO Cisco.

#MWC16: LTE Hits One Billion Connections

The number of 4G connections has passed the one billion milestone and is on track to account for a third of all mobile connections by 2020, according to a new study by the GSMA.

The 2016 global edition of the GSMA’s ‘Mobile Economy’ series of reports points to an accelerating technology shift to 3G/4G mobile broadband networks across both developed and developing markets, which is fuelling digital innovation, smartphone adoption and mobile data growth. The study calculates that the mobile industry made a $3.1 trillion contribution to the world economy last year, equivalent to 4.2 per cent of global GDP.

Some highlights:

  • 4G accounted for one billion of the 7.3 billion mobile connections reached by the end of 2015. 
  • The number of 4G connections doubled in 2015, largely as a result of the increase in 4G network deployments in the developing world. 
  • At the end of 2015, there were 451 live 4G (LTE) networks available in 151 countries, with almost half of these in the developing world. 4G is forecast to account for around a third of the almost nine billion mobile connections expected by 2020. 
  • Mobile broadband networks (3G and 4G) accounted for 50 per cent of connections in 2015, a figure set to rise to 70 per cent by 2020.    
  • Smartphones accounted for 45 per cent of mobile connections in 2015 (up from just 8 per cent in 2010) and a further 2.6 billion smartphone connections are expected to be added over the next five years. 
  • Mobile data volumes are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 49 per cent over the next five years – a more than seven-fold increase – approaching 40 exabytes per month by 20202. This will be equivalent to a global average of 7 gigabytes per subscriber per month.
  • The number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide stood at 4.7 billion at the end of 2015, equivalent to 63 per cent of the world’s population. 
  • Unique subscribers are forecast to reach 5.6 billion by 2020, by which point more than 70 per cent of the global population are expected to have a mobile subscription. 
  • More than 90 per cent of subscriber growth over the next five years is forecast to come from developing world markets.  

“Our new report reveals that mobile broadband is now a truly global phenomenon, extending high-speed connectivity and services to citizens in all corners of the world,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.

#MWC16: Facebook's Telecom Infra Project Brings OCP Model to Infrastructure

Facebook is launching a "Telecom Infra Project", "an engineering-focused initiative that is bringing operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies together to collaborate on the development of new technologies and reimagine traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure."

The idea is to take the principles of the Open Compute Project (OCP) model and apply them to software systems and components involved in access, backhaul, and core networks.  The OCP model has been successful in spurring change in the data center.  Now, Facebook believes the same can be done for carrier networks.

Facebook said the initial focus of TIP will be on disaggregating the components of network infrastructure that are traditionally bundled together and vendor-specific.

TIP members will participate by contributing specs for network hardware or software, working together to develop and define new specs, designing new network topologies to solve for specific connectivity challenges, and adopting and deploying the technologies that emerge from these efforts.

At launch, several TIP members have agreed to contribute an initial set of reference designs focusing on access. Planned contributions include a reference design for a network-in-a-box–compatible hardware platform that is configurable as either a 2G or an LTE cellular access point or as a network node that is compatible with local power and networking infrastructures, as well as a network-in-a-box software reference code that includes both traditional access functionality as well as services typically found in the central data center, which will help simplify the network architecture and reduce cost. Facebook also plans to contribute a software solution to address challenges in wireless backhaul for an L3 mesh network, focusing on scalability, fast convergence, ease of configuration, and extensibility.

Major launch partners include Intel, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom.

Nokia Incorporates Open Compute Designs into AirFrame Portfolio

Nokia plans to incorporate Open Compute Project (OCP) designs into its AirFrame Data Center Portfolio, aiming to offer greater efficiency, density, cooling and power usage effectiveness.

OCP-based variants for computing, network and storage will be developed in line with OCP specifications, but taking into account the specific needs of the telco domain such as regulatory requirements, Direct Current (DC) power feeding and electromagnetic shielding.

Nokia said it plans to offer a full end-to-end data center solution for telco, IT and enterprise customers, with cloud wise services supporting design and deployment. The OCP-based variants will complement the already available AirFrame rackmount servers launched in June 2015, offering complete flexibility, scalability and reliability for smaller and more distributed data center deployments.

#MWC16: Four Top Operators Push for 5G Open Trial Specs

A new 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance has been formed by KT, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom and Verizon to develop an aligned 5G trial specification that would serve as a common, extendable platform for different 5G trial activity around the world. The work will be focused on technical fundamentals and promoting a more inclusive, open, and collaborative approach to the development of 5G trial networks.

Specifically, The 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance will focus on 5G radio interface trial activities and aims to provide the wireless industry with the ability to test and validate key technical components. Coordination is already underway, with technical trials occurring in the 2016-2018 timeframe. The development of the trial specification will allow a variety of different industry partners (network vendors, chipset/device vendors, operators, test equipment vendors, etc.) to join and contribute.

Some key points:

  • The trial specification will be neutral and is not intended to limit on-going standardization discussions and decisions that will be happening in 3GPP. 
  • The trial specification will cover multiple spectrum bands, including bands above and below 6 GHz.
  • Key suppliers to these operators have committed to this initiative
  • Other key industry participants are expected to join the alliance in the future.

#MWC16: Ericsson Announces a Cloud Connect Alliance with AWS

Ericsson announced  a global business, technology and services alliance with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accelerate cloud transformation for telecoms service providers.

Specifically, Ericsson is creating a global team of experts focused on the AWS Cloud and opening cloud innovation centers with customers, and AWS is supporting Ericsson in this effort.

Telstra is the first Ericsson customer to agree to host a joint cloud innovation center with Ericsson.  The center will be hosted at Telstra's Gurrowa Innovation Lab in Melbourne, Australia.

Ericsson cited several examples of how service providers could use AWS services and expertise :

  • End-to-end security and data traffic management from mobile networks and on-premises infrastructure to the AWS Cloud
  • Trusted cloud and workload management across on-premises infrastructure and the AWS Cloud
  • Gateway services for AWS storage services resident at communications service providers, that help maintain local regulation and compliance requirements

"Service providers are seeing explosive growth due to the rapid adoption of mobile applications and IoT, which is driving the need to think differently about infrastructure and ecosystems. Communications service providers are uniquely positioned to capture the upsides of the cloud adoption wave going on in the market. Ericsson's new Cloud Innovation Centers, leveraging AWS service and expertise, are designed to empower communications service providers to accelerate innovation within their organizations and rapidly achieve the agility and cost optimization benefits of using AWS," stated Terry Wise, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc.

"AWS is the world's leader in cloud computing with a highly-reliable, scalable, and secure global infrastructure. Ericsson has always taken great ideas, industrialized them, and made them available in every country. Building upon AWS' platform, we will drive new growth opportunities across the service provider industry," stated Anders Lindblad, Head of Business Unit Cloud & IP, Ericsson.

#MWC16: Cisco Ultra Reimagines Mobile Core

At Mobile World Congress, Cisco unveiled Ultra, its new virtualized, feature-rich, mobile services platform. Deutsche Telekom is creating a multi-country mobile cloud. SK Telecom of South Korea is automating new service creation using Cisco Ultra.

Some highlights:

  • SDN enables user plane functionality to be distributed close to the radio access network, allowing data to shortcut to the Internet. This reduces backhaul traffic
  • Service creation and control can be centralized, allowing operators to be more agile
  • Massive scale: In its first release, the system is tested to over two terabytes per second of traffic handling capacity, and over 20 million connections.
  • Time to revenue: It simplifies and speeds the introduction of new services, from Connected Car to enterprise private mobile networks.
  • Automated deployments: It automates the deployment of services through an easy to use user interface. Deployment intervals can be reduced from months to minutes, and deployment costs can be reduced by 30 percent or more.
  • Open and extensible: Ultra can easily integrate with third-party components. A full member of the Cisco Open Network Architecture and Evolved Services Platform, Ultra can easily onboard any of the more than 100 virtual applications in the virtualized network functions portfolio, plus third-party virtual applications.
  • Ultra is deployable over public, private, or hybrid clouds, and may be combined with Cisco SaaS solutions like Infinite Video, Spark, and others.

“With the new Ultra services platform, our global customers will be able to do things in near real time, that previously took hours or days,” said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president, Service Provider business, products and solutions, Cisco. “Together we are able to deliver a transformational customer experience today, while preparing the industry path to 5G.”

“We are seeing early customer adoption for the Ultra Services Platform, with eight operators worldwide, including three North American operators,” said Scott Yow, vice president, Ultra Services Platform, Cisco. “This unique, SDN distributed architecture will enable our customers to harness the full potential of virtualization, SDN, and cloud.”

#MWC16: Carriers Adopt Google's Android Rich Communications Services Profile

Major global operators agreed to accelerate the availability of Rich Communications Services (RCS) as an open, consistent, and globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices. Operators have agreed to transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with operators and OEMs.

Operators backing this initiative include América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom and Vodafone.

The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling consumers to access RCS services on their devices. Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide1. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.

“RCS continues to experience organic growth around the world, with 47 operators in 34 countries having launched services to date. However, this initiative will greatly simplify and accelerate adoption of the technology, and points to the future of how mobile users will communicate with one another. This is an incredibly positive development for the industry,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Google’s contributions will provide operators a new opportunity for a rich, consistent implementation across Android devices and offer a real step change in messaging experiences for consumers worldwide.”

#MWC16: Intel Shows 5G Trial Platform

Intel unveiled a 5G Mobile Trial Platform for use in both wireless access points (infrastructure) and devices.  The portable system helps Intel and its partners better assess 5G technology and propagation challenges in actual usage scenarios.

Key components:

  • A baseband signal processor powered by Altera Arria 10 FPGAs, which enables quick updating of the 5G trial platform’s processing layers and the ability to flexibly track the development of 5G air interface technology
  • An advanced radio frequency unit supporting operation in sub-6 GHz, cm-wave and mm-wave spectrum bands, as well as two-stream or four-stream MIMO capability
  • A communications protocol stack based on the Intel Core i7 processor

Intel said these subsystems and the platform’s flexible design allow for:

  • Use in a variety of configurations and geo-zones, including operation identified bands and an extensible architecture for other bands
  • Massive data capacity through bandwidths ranging from 100-800 MHz
  • Support for beam-forming and phase-array operation at cm-wave and mm-wave frequencies
  • Support for wideband, multi-stream operation at sub-6 GHz frequencies
  • Multi-gigabit symmetric upload/download speeds for next-generation mobile applications
  • Data offload support via IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi and WiGig
  • Network design for ultra-low latency services and ultra-dense massive MIMO technology, as well as support for single and multi-board modes
  • Extension of existing LTE investments through support of LTE-5G dual connectivity

#MWC16: Open Source MANO Initiative Gets Underway

A new industry initiative is underway for the development of Open Source software for Management and Orchestration (MANO) of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). The group is sponsored by ETSI and its founders include BT, Canonical, Intel, Mirantis, Inc, Telefonica, Telekom Austria Group and Telenor.

Two of the key components of the ETSI NFV architectural framework are the NFV Orchestrator and VNF (Virtualized Network Function) Manager, known as NFV MANO. Additional layers, such as service orchestration are also required for operators to enable true NFV services. Open Source software can facilitate the implementation of an ETSI aligned NFV architecture, provide practical and essential feedback to the ETSI NFV ISG and increase the likelihood of interoperability among NFV implementations.

The new group, ETSI OSM, will deliver an open source MANO stack using accepted open source tools and working procedures. The activity will be closely aligned with the evolution of ETSI NFV and will provide a regularly updated reference implementation of NFV MANO. OSM will enable an eco-system of NFV solution vendors to rapidly and cost-effectively deliver solutions to their users.

“ETSI OSM complements the work of the ETSI NFV ISG and vice versa. It will provide an opportunity to capitalize on the synergy between standardization and open source approaches by accessing a greater and more diverse set of contributors and developers than would normally be possible”, says Luis Jorge Romero, ETSI Director General. “This maximizes innovation, efficiency and time to market and ensures a continuing series of conformant reference implementations.”

#MWC16: DOCOMO Runs EPC in its Own NFV

NTT DOCOMO has developed its own network function virtualization (NFV) technology that can run Evolved Packet Core (EPC) software from multiple vendors to enhance connectivity in high-volume areas. DOCOMO plans to deploy the technology on its network starting this March.

DOCOMO said it expects to virtualize many other key components of its mobile network, aiming at eventually establishing a fully virtualized network.

“Multi-vendor NFV technology, once regarded as pie in the sky, will now be deployed commercially on our mobile network,” said Seizo Onoe, DOCOMO’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “Many NFV technologies already deployed still rely on single vendor, so we expect this truly multi-vendor NFV technology will be a long-awaited game-changer in the mobile industry’s ecosystem.”

OpenDaylight Berylium Hits the Streets

The OpenDaylight Project released Beryllium (Be) - the fourth release of its open source platform for programmable, software-defined networking platform.

New Features in OpenDaylight Beryllium

  • Performance and Scalability: Stronger analysis and testing of clustering (where multiple instances of ODL act as one logical controller) appear in ODL Be. Applications that want to be cluster-aware can choose how to put data across the cluster. For the first time in OpenDaylight, the Be release includes all the components necessary to fully support OpenStack High Availability and Clustering with improved support for Neutron APIs and features. As of the Be release, OpenDaylight enables workload placement on hosts with DPDK-accelerated virtual switches.
  • Ease of Adoption: ODL Be continues to integrate features to improve interoperability for multivendor environments with updates to its microservices architecture and new projects like NetIDE for intent-based network modeling. The NeXt UI feature allows you to better understand OpenDaylight’s functionality through user-friendly visual displays. Updated documentation is available to aid in installation and deployment.
  • Abstracting Network Models: ODL Be includes the widest range of configurations for policy and intent of any controller or platform. Four methods are supported - NEMO, Application Layer Traffic Optimization (ALTO), Group Based Policy (GBP) and Network Intent Composition (NIC) - providing unparalleled flexibility for intent-based management and direction of network services and resources.
  • Broad Set of Use Cases: ODL Be provides SDN use cases for both traditional and greenfield, for service provider and enterprise networks. New services and architectural improvements in Beryllium will enable new use cases in the areas of Cloud and NFV as well as adding scale and flexibility to the traditional use cases in the areas of network resource optimization and automated service delivery.

“Dozens of vendors and end users have already chosen to build and deploy solutions leveraging the OpenDaylight platform,” said Neela Jacques, executive director, OpenDaylight. “ODL Be delivers important performance and scalability improvements and adds significant new network services and abstractions to serve the ever-growing set of use cases being tackled by end-users. ODL Be brings us one step closer to unifying the industry around a single, common platform.”

The OpenDaylight Project Announces Lithium Release

The OpenDaylight Project announced its third open SDN software release -- Lithium.

OpenDaylight is a highly available, modular, extensible, scalable and multi-protocol controller infrastructure built for SDN deployments on modern heterogeneous multi-vendor networks. OpenDaylight provides a model-driven service abstraction platform that allows users to write apps that easily work across a wide variety of hardware and southbound protocols.

#MWC16: ZTE and China Mobile Show Prototype 5G Radio

ZTE and China Mobile are showcasing a 5G high-frequency prototype base station.

The ZTE-developed prototype operates on a 15 GHz carrier with a bandwidth of 500 MB and boasts a hardware structure of a large-capacity baseband unit (BBU) and an intelligent remote radio unit (RRU). Its high-frequency, ultra-wideband and compact design optimizes performance and provides a multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) peak bitrate as high as 10 Gbps+. It also uses beamforming technology so that mobile terminals can be tracked by multiple beams rapidly and adaptively to achieve 3D coverage in all directions and adapt to different user applications.

ZTE said its prototype is designed for the commercial use of 5G, which will cover a wide range of the spectrum from low bands to high bands, hence making the air interface design more complicated. Its design make this easier and more efficient by integrating large-scale antenna arrays, standardizing the air interface design, and using Mobile Broadband (MBB) to support diversified 5G services.

The companies also demonstrated 10 Gbps+ high bitrate, beam-tracking, and other key 5G technologies.

IBM and VMware Enter Hybrid Cloud Partnership

IBM and VMware announced a strategic partnership designed to help enterprises take better advantage of the cloud.

Some key points:

  • IBM and VMware have jointly designed an architecture and cloud offering that will enable customers to automatically provision pre-configured VMware SDDC environments, consisting of VMware vSphere, NSX and Virtual SAN on the IBM Cloud. This will enable customer to deploy workloads in this hybrid cloud environment without modification, due to common security and networking models based on VMware.
  • IBM will utilize its extensive CloudBuilder tools and workload automation capabilities to automatically provision pre-configured or custom workloads to the cloud, validated by VMware's design patterns for Software Defined Data Center architectures.  
  • In addition, VMware has extended vRealize Automation and vCenter management tools to deploy and manage environments on the IBM Cloud, as if they are part of a customer’s local data center. 
  • The two companies also will jointly market and sell new offerings for hybrid cloud deployments, including seamless workload migrations, disaster recovery, capacity expansion and data center consolidation.

"We are reaching a tipping point for cloud as the platform on which the vast majority of business will happen,” said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president, IBM Cloud.  “The strategic partnership between IBM and VMware will enable clients to easily embrace the cloud while preserving their existing investments and creating new business opportunities.”

Verizon to Acquire XO's Fiber Business for $1.8 Billion

Verizon Communications has agreed to acquire XO Communications’ fiber-optic network business for approximately $1.8 billion.

Verizon cited several financial benefits from the transaction, including a step-up in the basis of the assets as well as operating and capital expense savings. The net present value of the operational synergies is expected to be in excess of $1.5 billion.

Separately, Verizon will simultaneously lease available XO wireless spectrum, with an option to buy XO’s entity that holds its spectrum by year-end 2018.

Carl C. Icahn, the Chairman and Sole Shareholder of XO Holdings, stated "Although this sale to Verizon does not represent a significant annualized return on our investment, we believe that in today’s environment it does represent the best achievable outcome for the company’s customers, employees and owner.”