Friday, March 31, 2017

Bouygues Telecom partners with Altitude Infrastructure to expand FTTH

French telco Bouygues Telecom, operator of national IP fibre-based and mobile networks with over 16 million subscribers, announced it has entered into a framework agreement through which it will begin providing a FTTH service in partnership with Altitude Infrastructure.

Under the agreement, Altitude will provide Bouygues with fibre network technology to serve both retail and business customers across France. The companies plan to launch a trial phase in September 2017, with Altitude expected to start marketing the new fibre-based services in 2018. Bouygues noted that at the end of 2016 it had 3.1 million fixed broadband customers, including 121,000 signed up to FTTH services.

France-based Altitude is an established company that works with local authorities in France to build, develop, operate and market alternate networks. The company specialises in public initiative network (PIN) projects, through which networks are deployed where no existing operator wishes to invest in building infrastructure independently. PINs are backed by public funding and may require approval from local and European regulators.

The new agreement with Bouygues covers all of the PINs implemented by Altitude, although it will initially focus on two networks in the east of France that cover around 670,000 customers. To date, Altitude has passed approximately one million premises across France with FTTH infrastructure via 19 PINs in one region covering 15 departments and four urban authorities. As of September 2016, there were 3.2 million FTTH subscribers in France for all operators.

Regarding the agreement, Richard Viel, deputy CEO of Bouygues Telecom, commented, "Bouygues Telecom has already been a customer of Altitude Infrastructure's networks for its business clients for a number of years, the new partnership… (demonstrates) its ambitions in FTTH, specifically to be present in all of France's PINs… to enable Bouygues Telecom to reach its target of 20 million premises marketed by 2022".

Telenor and Huawei Test 5G E-band multi-user MIMO

Norway-based global telco Telenor Group, serving around 214 million mobile subscribers in 13 markets worldwide, and Huawei have jointly announced what they claim is the first 5G-based E-band multi-user MIMO demonstration to be conducted in Norway.

During the demonstration the partners achieved a maximum data rate of 70 Gbit/s, and demonstrated that E-band (the 71-76/81-86 GHz frequency band) multi-user MIMO can provide deliver 20 Gbit/s speeds for a single user. Huawei noted that working as a supplementary low frequency band, E-band can be used to enhance the user experience for eMBB services.

The companies stated that they will also conduct a joint desktop study designed to provide insight and experience to help identify the steps that will be required to upgrade from 4G to 5G technology in Telenor's network. The work will be carried out at the Telenor and Huawei joint innovation centre.

In mid-2016, Telenor announced it had completed a major commercial deployment of Huawei's Blade Site wireless base-station solution in India, with more than 10,000 new sites installed across its six circles in the country. Telenor India selected the Huawei Blade Site solution to meet growing demand for voice and data services from its around 52 million subscribers.

Earlier last year, Telenor India announced that it had commercialised Huawei's Lean GSM solution to provide a path to the roll-out of mobile broadband (MBB) services across its six circles the country. The operator stated that the Lean GSM solution had been deployed in 28 Indian cities to enhance coverage through improved spectral efficiency. Huawei noted the project included the modernisation of 5,000 sites to prepare for the delivery of mobile broadband services.

IEEE 802.3bv amendment Addresses 1 GBE over Plastic

The IEEE has announced the publication of the new IEEE 802.3bv, Standard for Ethernet amendment: Physical layer specifications and management parameters for 1,000 Mbit/s operation over plastic optical fibre.

The new IEEE 802.3bv standard amendment is intended to address growing demand for high-speed Ethernet connectivity solutions for automotive, industrial and home networking, and leverages the ability of plastic optical fibre to meet the requirements of these applications where long link lengths are not involved.

The IEEE noted that automotive and industrial networks are increasingly migrating towards the use of Ethernet technology, with plastic optical fibre already being used in automobiles and other vehicles. The IEEE 802.3bv standard is designed to provide a reliable media option for Ethernet automotive networks, and also offers an alternative transmission medium applicable for harsh, electrically noisy environments such as industrial automation islands.

The non-conductive cable construction and simple installation properties enabled by plastic optical fibre are also being utilised by telecom providers to enhance Ethernet-based home networks for wireless network access based on IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) devices.

IEEE recently announced the approval of New Ethernet Applications, an IEEE-SA Industry Connections (IC) Program established to identify and address standards development requirements to support the broader utilisation of IEEE 802.3 standards across a range of industries.

The organisation noted that with emerging, non-traditional applications creating demand for new IEEE 802.3 standards, it ahs expanded the scope of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Next Generation Enterprise, Data-Center, Campus (NG-ECDC) activity. Therefore the IEEE 802.3 New Ethernet Applications Industry Connections (NEA-IC) activity has been formed to cover applications outside data centre, campus and enterprise environments.

As part of this effort, study groups and standards development activities have been launched to address industrial and automotive applications, including the IEEE P802.3cg, Physical layer specifications and management parameters for 10 Mbit/s operation over single balanced twisted-pair cabling and IEEE P802.3 Multi-gig automotive Ethernet PHY study group, as well as application for networking management protocols such as the IEEE P802.3cf, Yang data model definitions task force.

LightCounting Forecasts Optics Sales to top 4 ICPs

LightCounting, in its latest High-Speed Ethernet Optics report, finds that demand for Ethernet optics from leading Internet content providers (ICPs) continues to rise, with sales to the Top 4 ICPs - Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft - forecast to increase from $0.5 billion in 2016 to $1 billion in 2017 and nearly $2 billion by 2022, representing around 30% of the global market for Ethernet transceivers.

LightCounting notes that supply shortages for 100 Gigabit Ethernet optics limited market growth in 2016, as vendors worked to ramp production. The research firm projects that, based on estimated manufacturing capacity for the leading suppliers of optics in 2017, demand will continue to exceed supply until 2018. Meanwhile, it expects volume shipments of 200 and 400 Gigabit Ethernet transceivers for applications in ICP mega-data centres will commence in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

Broken down by technology, LightCounting forecasts that the 40 Gigabit Ethernet segment will continue to decline having peaked in 2016, while sales of 100 Gigabit Ethernet solutions will continue to grow rapidly and peak at around $1 billion by 2019. For the 200/400 Gigabit Ethernet segment, it projects that sales will ramp from 2018 to reach around $200 million in 2019 and approach $1.2 billion by 2022.

LightCounting's forecast is based on a correlation between the growth rate of traffic inside mega-data centres and the bandwidth of optical transceivers sold into the market segment, while Amazon and Facebook recently stated that traffic in their facilities is increasing at a rate of around 100% per year.

Meanwhile, data on transceiver sales indicates that the top 4 ICPs increased bandwidth of optical connectivity by 70% in 2016, which is consistent with reported shortages in supplies of 100 Gigabit Ethernet optics. For 2017, LightCounting expects that bandwidth will increase by 90% as supply chain shortages moderate.

For the period 2018 to 22, LightCounting's projections assume that traffic growth in mega-data centres will decline gradually, while ICPs will find ways to use optical connectivity more efficiently. Even so, the research firm predicts that the global market for Ethernet optics will increase by 18% annually and exceed $6 billion by 2022.

ADI acquires OneTree Microdevices

Analog Devices, a supplier of analogue, mixed-signal and digital signal processing semiconductors, has announced the acquisition of Santa Rosa, California-based OneTree Microdevices, a privately-held fabless semiconductor company offering solutions for emerging broadband networks, on undisclosed terms. 

ADI is a major supplier of mixed signal solutions for cable access, ranging from data converters to clocking and control/power conditioning. Through the acquisition of OneTree Microdevices' GaAs and GaN amplifier portfolio, which are designed to offer enhanced linearity, output power and efficiency, ADI will be able to address the complete signal chain for next-generation cable access networks.

OneTree Microdevices focuses on delivering solutions for broadband networks, having developed a range of key components for CATV, including enabling support for DOCSIS 3.1 technology, and FTTH networks. Analog Devices noted that cable operators are adopting next generation architectures such as DOCSIS 3.1 and remote PHY to increase the capacity of their networks, which the acquired OneTree assets will enable it to serve.

Analog Devices recently completed the acquisition of Linear Technology, a designer, manufacturer and supplier of a broad range of analogue integrated circuits for major customers worldwide, for a total of approximately $14.8 billion in cash and stock.

Linear Technology's products are designed to provide the bridge between analogue and digital electronics, with applications in markets including communications, networking, industrial, automotive, computer, instrumentation and consumer. The company's products span power management, data conversion, signal conditioning, RF and interface ICs, subsystems and wireless sensor networks.

Commenting on the acquisition, Greg Henderson, VP, RF and microwave business at Analog Devices, said, "…. with OneTree Microdevices, ADI is positioned to solve the bandwidth and power efficiency challenges facing cable operators in their efforts to increase broadband Internet services for homes and businesses… OneTree’s expertise aligns with ADI's focus on GaN technology and extends its portfolio of RF and microwave signal chain solutions for infrastructure, defence and instrumentation markets".

Sasktel Selects Ericsson MediaFirst for IPTV

Ericsson announced it has been selected by SaskTel, the leading ICT provider in Saskatchewan, Canada with approximately 1.4 million customers, for a project to upgrade its TV service offering to enable the delivery of next generation IPTV services.

Under the agreement, SaskTel will implement the Ericsson MediaFirst solution suite this year, with plans to launch its enhanced and expanded IPTV service commercially across Saskatchewan in early 2018.

The Ericsson MediaFirst platform is designed to provide SaskTel's subscribers with new features via a new pay TV in-home and TV everywhere product. New features such as a personalised interface across all screens and the ability to watch live TV and access content on demand on any device will also be offered to existing maxTV subscribers.

Ericsson's MediaFirst solution suite incorporates the MediaFirst TV platform, video processing, video delivery and video storage and processing platform (VSPP). The MediaFirst TV platform is a software-defined, cloud-based TV platform designed to enable a converged multi-screen experience encompassing pay TV in-home, TV everywhere and OTT services utilising any content source and delivery network.

The MediaFirst platform leverages a devops approach to provide enhanced flexibility and scalability; it also features analytics tools that help operators to address relevant and related content and promotions to viewers.

Ericsson noted that MediaFirst video processing allows virtualisation in content exchange, distribution and software-defined live UHD encoding, while MediaFirst video delivery addresses each stage of the media delivery chain, including VSPP, to enable advanced time-shifted services such as cloud DVR.

SaskTel serves a total of approximately 1.4 million customer connections in Saskatchewan, including 617,000 wireless accesses, 389,000 wireline accesses, 273,000 Internet accesses and 111,000 maxTV subscribers. SaskTel and its subsidiaries offer a range of ICT solutions including voice, data and Internet, wireless data, TV, data centre and cloud-based services.

Update on the telecommunications market in Poland - Part 4

P4, operating as Play (continued)

According to UKE's report on the Polish communications market in 2015, P4 had the largest share in the market for bundled services in terms of the number of subscribers, with 30% of subscribers purchasing the service from that operator, up from 10.6% in 2014. Also according to UKE, P4 ranked third after Orange Polska and Polkomtel in terms of its share of fixed and wireless Internet subscribers, with a market share of 7.6%, up from 7.0% in 2014.

On January 6th UKE reported 1.75 million users had taken advantage of MNP in 2016 and the company, which had gained most from the scheme, was Poland's second largest mobile operator. P4 gained a net 295,241 new users from other networks to reach its market share of 25.8% by subscribers, and 23.6 % in terms of revenues. P4 also made a meaningful mobile market share gain in terms of subscribers in 2015 compared with 2014. On January 13th P4 announced that its LTE network, using carrier aggregation technology, covered 1,378 municipalities with at least 1,000 inhabitants.

On January 17th, local Polish news-source reported informed as saying that P4, which historically depended on roaming agreements, primarily with T-Mobile Polska (but also with Orange Polska and Polkomtel), intended to expand its own network coverage with about 2,000 new locations by 2018/2019. This would give it a similar number of base stations as Polkomtel and significantly reduce the difficulties of having to rely on competitive networks. 

Polkomtel, operating as Plus

To recap, in January 2014 Reuters reported that Polish media group and leading national DTH operator Cyfrowy Polsat, majority controlled by Polish billionaire Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, had agreed to a PLN6.15 billion ($2.01 billion) share issue to buy mobile provider Polkomtel in a share-swap based on purchasing a controlling stake in Polkomtel's holding company, Metelem, giving the latter's owners a 45.53% stake in the enlarged group. The merger of Cyfrowy Polsat with Polkomtel was designed to significantly help to alleviate the latter's debt burden. The deal closed in May 2014. The impact of the deal was described as follows In the Cyfrowy Polsat annual report for 2014, published in March 2015:

-    "By adding the operator of Plus network to Cyfrowy Polsat Group, it has become the biggest media and telecom group in the region, servicing 6.1 million contract customers and providing a total of 16.5 million pay TV, mobile telephony and LTE Internet services, as well as one of the biggest private Polish enterprises with the capitalisation of PLN 15 billon… total consolidated revenue of Cyfrowy Polsat Group in 2014 was PLN 7.4 billion, with EBITDA of PLN 2.7 billion and profit at PLN 292.5 million".

According to the UKE report on the Polish communications market in 2015, Polkomtel:

·         Had a 22.6% subscriber market share of the Polish mobile services market, but a remarkable 27.9% share by revenues.

·         Had a 9.2% subscriber market share of the combined fixed and wireless Internet market, up from 8.8% in 2014 (Polkomtel has virtually no position in the Polish fixed-line market).

·         Had an almost dominant position in interconnection revenue, with a market share of 38.5%, more than half as much again as P4, the second-placed player with a market share of 23.0%.

·         Had an 8.1% subscriber share in bundled services, up from 6.6% in 2014.

(NB: It should be noted that Cyfrowy Polsat and other subsidiaries of the company also participate independently in some of the same markets as Polkomtel.)

On January 20th Polkomtel and Cyfrowy Polsat, which had introduced a 300 Mbit/s mobile data service in the first half of 2016 based on LTE Plus Advanced aggregation technology, announced the LTE Plus Advanced network of Group Cyfrowy Polska covered more than 15 million inhabitants (40% of the population), while its standard LTE coverage was approaching 100% of the population.

On February 2nd Poland's UOkIK announced that it was fining Cyfrowy Polsat and Polkomtel a total of over PLN40 million for misleading advertising campaigns concerned with smartDOM and Power LTE products (both service packages offered by Cyfrowy Polsat and Polkomtel), all of which focused on the slogan 'Power LTE – LTE Internet with unlimited data'. PLN 30.7 million of this will be paid directly by Polkomtel. UOkIK is also requiring the two companies to publish details of the decision on their websites and explain it on TV.

On February 14th Cyfrowy Polsat and Polkomtel/Plus announced a new phase of communication of their smartDOM strategic bundled services offer, which would include up to nine household products and services that customers would be able to combine and thus obtain a significant reduction in their collective annual costs of running a home. Apart from mobile telephony services offered by Plus, as well as Cyfrowy Polsat's DTH , the other options include electricity supply, banking services, insurance services, security services for homes, as well as the sale of telecommunication devices, home electronics and household appliances. On March 1st it was announced that natural gas supply for homes would be added to the program.

(Errata: the reference in Part 3 to Orange Polska's 40% share of mobile revenue was meant to refer only to its revenue from outgoing voice calls. For total mobile revenue, Orange's share was given by UKE as 26.7%, 1 point below its previously quoted subscriber market share of 27.7%.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

IEEE Women In Engineering Int Leadership Conference - May 22-23

IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, today unveiled the conference agenda for the 2017 IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference (IEEE WIE ILC). Senior science and technology professionals are invited to come and exchange ideas, creating a community that fuels innovation and offers support to women and men who strive to Lead Beyond. Join us at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California on 22 – 23 May 2017 to collaborate and share.  

Attendees should register by April 4 to receive Early Bird rates. To register for the IEEE WIE ILC, visit

Leading speakers will discuss key strategies in these main categories: leadership, entrepreneurship, disruptive technology, innovation and empowerment. Keynote speakers include Microsoft EVP Business Development, Peggy Johnson; Intel Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Danielle Brown; DARPA Acting Deputy Director, Stefanie Tompkins; Harvey Mudd College President, Maria Klawe; and Ellevest CEO, Sallie Krawcheck. View the full agenda to meet all the speakers.

“Reflecting on previous IEEE WIE ILC events, my team and I used feedback from attendees to create a truly dynamic program,” said Nita Patel, founder and chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference. “Striving to build upon their careers, attendees will experience new, in depth, hands-on workshops designed to boost learning, networking and collaboration, for a greater peer discussion experience, and problem solving setting. Our goal is for IEEE WIE ILC to be a place professionals meet and share strategies, so women find new ways to Lead Beyond.”

The 2017 IEEE WIE ILC delivers the networking, educational opportunities and tips even before the live conference begins.

Join our #WIEWednesdays Pre-Conference Virtual TracksMeet speakers while they share their experiences and strategies for success. Register for future tracks: 29 March 2017, 19 April 2017 and 10 May 2017, and watch past sessions on our YouTube Playlist.

Start-Up Pitch Competition: Hosted by our partners, VMWare and Women Who Code, IEEE invites women run startups to submit their company pitch. Six start-ups will be selected to showcase their brand to an audience of potential investors, partners and customers. The application deadline is 31 March 2017 to submit your pitch.

Workshops: There will be twelve focused workshop sessions designed to explore topics and develop skills in depth and to foster better networking and common connections. Go to our workshop schedule to plan an itinerary.

Career Fair: Held 23 May 2017 from 10:00 to 3:00, attend and learn about new career opportunity at companies like Verizon, Intel, Microsoft, Ericsson, VMware, Rockwell Automation. Don’t have a conference pass, yet would like to attend? Purchase a $5 ticket.

To learn more about the IEEE WIE ILC, visit

Verizon Launches LTE-M Nationwide

Verizon announced the commercial launch of its nationwide 4G LTE Category M1 (or Cat M1) network. The coverage spans 2.4 million square miles.

Verizon will introduce low rate, multi-year plans to match the longer useful life of Cat M1 devices, including data plans that start at $2 per month per device, with customized options available for bulk activations and volume purchases.

Verizon said its Cat M1 network is built on a virtualized cloud environment which enables rapid and agile IoT solution deployment and nationwide scaling aimed at increasing IoT adoption for developers and businesses with new and more economical IoT data plans.

“We are very proud to again demonstrate our innovative leadership by providing this commercially available network for our customers, an industry first,” said Mike Haberman, Network Vice President at Verizon.  “As the natural shift from CDMA-based IoT solutions to the more robust and cloud-based LTE technology occurs, it’s important we stay ahead of that technology evolution for our customers so we can continue to provide them service on the best and most advanced wireless network. Our commercial deployment of the nationwide LTE Cat M1 network does just that.”

Verizon’s Cat M1 partners include Sequans, Telit, U-Blox, Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, Qualcomm Technologies, and Altair.

CenturyLink implements vBNG using CORD

CenturyLink announced that as part of a program to transform its central offices using next-generation virtual functionality designed to speed the delivery of broadband services to customers, it has become the first carrier to use its own virtualised broadband network gateway (vBNG) to support broadband services based on the Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) design.

The implementation marks a key step in CenturyLink's efforts to virtualise its infrastructure within the central office, which comprises part of the company's wider program to establish full virtualisation across its global IP core network by the end of 2019.

Through adopting CORD, CenturyLink is using software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) with the aim of bringing data centre economics and cloud agility to its central offices and to enable faster and more efficient delivery of new services to its residential and business customers. The deployment features CenturyLink's SDN access controller, an OpenDaylight-based controller stack that integrates its legacy OSS and latest orchestration platforms.

CenturyLink noted that in addition to virtualising its infrastructure, it is to developing and implementing virtualised services, including a virtual firewall, data centre interconnection and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) for enterprise customers. Through these virtualisation initiatives, CenturyLink is seeking to enhance the customer experience by providing greater control of their services.

In June 2016, CenturyLink announced it had acquired certain assets of the company formerly known as Active Broadband Networks, a provider of software-based broadband networking solutions. The operator stated that the assets would help accelerate its efforts to automate its network, transition network functions into the cloud and deliver SDN and NFV services.

The company formerly known as Active Broadband Networks uses SDN and NFV technologies to provide broadband edge solutions to service providers designed to enable a cloud-based service infrastructure. The company specifically developed the Software-Defined Broadband Network Gateway (SD-BNG), designed to offer a cost-effective alternative for xDSL providers deploying The SD-BNG solution was a software platform for deployment virtually or as part of a cloud infrastructure.

SpaceX Launches SES-10 and Retrieves Falcon 9 Rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered the SES-10 communications satellite Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  The first stage of the rocket then successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic.  The historic mission marked the first re-use of a rocket. Falcon 9’s first stage for the SES-10 mission previously supported the successful CRS-8 mission in April 2016.

SES-10, which was built by Airbus Defence and Space and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, features a Ku-band payload of 55 36MHz transponder equivalents, of which 27 are incremental. The satellite is wholly dedicated to providing service to Latin America, replacing capacity currently provided by other SES satellites at 67 degrees West, as well as bring additional capacity to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The satellite will operate as the Andean Community’s Simón Bolivar 2 providing satellite capacity for each Andean Member State.

TE SubCom Carries 70.4 Tbit/s over 7,600 km using C+L

TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity company and provider of subsea communications technology, announced that it has demonstrated what it claims is a new record transmission capacity of 70.4 Tbit/s over a distance of 7,600 km.

The record transmission utilised SubCom's newly available C+L technology, which features amplifiers delivering nearly 10 THz of usable optical bandwidth, a transmission line designed to minimise noise accumulation and enhance performance, a new transmission format based on multi-dimensional coded modulation with hybrid probabilistic and geometrical constellation shaping, and digital signal processing providing mulitple stages of non-linear compensation.

SubCom announced earlier this year that it would deploy C+L technology in an undersea cable that it had started manufacturing in late 2016. SubCom's C+L is designed to effectively double the available transmission bandwidth of the repeater compared to the same number of fibre pairs utilising traditional C-band technology. As half the number of fibre pairs are needed compared to a C-band repeater, the C+L technology can enable higher performance and more cost effective submarine systems.

TE SubCom announced in January that it had begun manufacturing of C+L optical transmission technology, designed to provide cable system operators with ultra-wide, low-latency transmission performance and effectively doubling available bandwidth and capacity per fibre pair.

The C+L technology leverages a second length of erbium-doped fibre in undersea repeaters that provides both amplification and support for wavelengths on the long wavelength side of the traditional C-band for telecommunications applications. TE SubCom stated at that time that it was manufacturing cable with the new technology for a contracted system scheduled to launch in 2018. The company noted that a trans-Atlantic cable with eight fibre pairs equipped with C+L technology would be able to deliver capacity of up to 325 Tbit/s.

The results of the TE SubCom transmission technology demonstration were announced at the recent OFC conference in Los Angeles.

NetCologne Tests and GPON with ZTE

ZTE and German regional network operator NetCologne, which in mid-February formed a partnership for the roll-out of GPON and technology, have now announce the launch of the pilot phase.

Jointly developed by ZTE and NetCologne, the new technology that will be deployed is designed to support transmission speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s, with such speeds verified in the lab. The companies are currently implementing the first live connections in real-world conditions in the pilot phase of the project. NetCologne stated that technology will be made available on its network during 2017, with a target of serving around 260,000 households.

The deployment of technology is intended to enable NetCologne to cost-effectively connect buildings utilising the existing copper cabling infrastructure to its fibre network and deliver bandwidth of up to 1 Gbit/s to customers. ZTE noted that the project is specifically employing its combined GPON/ offering, which includes its latest 2U-high DSLAM products and gateways.

NetCologne, a subsidiary of utility company GEW Köln, is a regional network operator in Germany serving the greater Cologne-Bonn area. Under the agreement with ZTE announced in February, the companies stated they would jointly develop projects involving GPON and technology. Specifically, ZTE was to support NetCologne as it expanded and enhanced its service offering, initially via transitioning the existing VDSL-FTTB network toward GPON using technology.

ZTE noted at that time that GPON would serve as an uplink technology, with used to expand the existing FTTB infrastructure and integrate into NetCologne's network infrastructure that includes around 23,500 km of fibre.

NetCologne stated that in June 2016 it selected ARRIS International's Touchstone TG2492 gateway to enable gigabit broadband and enhance wireless broadband coverage for its subscribers in the Cologne area. Following development work it has developed a new type of DSLAM designed to meet the requirements of that will be installed as an interconnection point in building basements.

NetCologne noted that as the new DSLAM utilises a larger frequency spectrum than the existing FTTB DSLAMs, it enables the transfer rate to be increased in the future, by the current 100 Mbit/s to up to 1 Gbit/s.

During the ongoing pilot phase with ZTE, speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s will be tested over connections with different customer terminals. It was noted that the frequency spectrum from 2.2 MHz up is currently used for data transmission, leaving out the ADSL transmission range, while testing with the first ZTE chip generation currently utilises the frequency band up to 106 MHz. Using the new chip generation that is in development, the frequency spectrum can be doubled and increased to 212 MHz.

SoftBank and Ericsson Test mmWave 28 GHz for 5G

Ericsson and SoftBank announced the next stage of joint 5G technology trials as part of a program launched in August last year, when the partners tested 5G technology including base stations and end user equipment with control signal feedback using mid-band spectrum at 4.5 GHz, which is one of the candidate bands for delivery of 5G services in Japan.

Following the completion of basic 5G trials conducted in Tokyo in 2016 using 4.5 GHz and 15 GHz spectrum, the two companies now plan to proceed with more advanced tests.

The next 5G trial will be conducted in both indoor and outdoor trial environments and will encompass device mobility and stationary testing. The trial will specifically utilise Ericsson's mmWave 28 GHz 5G test bed solution, which includes base stations and device prototypes, and will feature advanced 5G technologies including massive-MIMO, massive beamforming, distributed MIMO, multi-user MIMO and beam tracking.

The latest technology trials are designed to deliver both the multi-gigabit data rates and ultra-low latency that are expected to be key requirements for future consumer mobile broadband and industrial use-cases.

Ericsson announced last July that it was extending its longstanding partnership with SoftBank and would hold joint field trials of 5G technology in Tokyo. Under the agreement, the two companies planned to cooperate to build a common understanding of 5G use cases and deployment scenarios, evaluate potential 5G technology components in field trials, and collaborate on 5G research projects.

In November 2016, Ericsson announced it had completed the first commercial implementation of its Elastic RAN for SoftBank's in Japan. Part of the Ericsson Cloud RAN solution, Elastic RAN is designed to improve users' mobile broadband experience through dynamic coordination of users and cells. Ericsson stated that installation of the technology in a Tokyo train station showed that downlink throughput could be increased by up to 40% during peak hours for commuters with 3 carrier aggregation-enabled smartphones.

In February this year, SoftBank announced it had deployed Ericsson's virtual Mobility Management Entity (MME), Cloud Execution Environment (CEE) based on OpenStack and Cloud Manager for Orchestration (ECM) into its commercial network. The deployment implemented a complete network functions virtualisation (NFV) solution, including virtual network functions (VNF), NFV Infrastructure (NFVI), VNF Manager (VNFM) and VNF Orchestration (VNFO).

The Ericsson virtual MME operates on commercial off-the-shelf hardware and is designed to coexist with native Ericsson MME to extend the resource pool.

OneAccess launches OVP Design Studio for NFV

OneAccess Networks of France announced the launch of OVP Design Studio, a software tool designed to enable communication service providers and managed service providers to accelerate the creation and delivery of NFV-based services.

The new OVP Design Studio provides a graphical software tool with a 'drag and drop' design environment within which operators can model, design, test and validate complete virtual network function (VNF)-based service chains.

Once a service had been tested and validated, OVP Design Studio allows the user to export it either as an XML template or a network service descriptor (NSD) for integration into any NetConf-capable orchestration system, enabling a significant time-saving compared to current service design and deployment methods.

OVP Design Studio is designed to be used in conjunction with OneAccess' Open Virtualization Platform (OVP), a hosting platform featuring integrated vRouter for OneAccess and third-party VNFs. The solution is designed to simplify the process of creating virtual network services by quickly instantiating and interconnecting VNFs, defining the service parameters and troubleshooting the resulting service chain.

OVP Design Studio is a key element of the OneAccess OVP portfolio, which targets applications in branch offices where users wish to create virtualised deployment of on-premise services.

In October 2016, OneAccess Networks launched its OVP Linux-based middleware platform that enables lifecycle management of both OneAccess VNFs and those from third-party vendors. The platform included a drag and drop GUI that combines the NetConf, SNMP and CLI APIs in a single VNF management interface. OVP can also be bundled with OneAccess' range of white-box CPEs and VNF catalogue.

OneAccess unveiled a range of carrier-grade physical and virtual network functions designed to enable service providers to deploy NFV (network functions virtualisation) in an open and interoperable environment earlier last year. The solution includes OVP, a carrier-grade VNF catalogue and whitebox CPE.

A2B Internet of Netherlands deploys Juniper vMX as VNF

Juniper Networks announced that A2B Internet, a Dutch Internet connectivity provider, has selected the Juniper vMX Virtual Routers as the first virtual network function (VNF) for its next-generation network platform, which is designed to enable A2B Internet to deliver new agile and automated services.

A2B Internet provides connectivity solutions to ISPs, web, cloud, hosting and enterprise customers. The company found that its existing solution was unable to meet the growing demand for data connections, in particular convergence time when a link failed or changed, meaning that each router in the network needed to recompute and update its routing tables.

A2B Internet selected Juniper's vMX solution based on criteria including its ability to support fast convergence times and its suite of routing features and automation capabilities, particularly the facility to automate provisioning across the network utilising APIs.

Juniper's vMX is a virtualised MX Series 3D universal edge router designed to improve network flexibility and speed time-to-market for new edge services. The vMX helps increase A2B Internet's service agility by enabling its customers to quickly implement services by creating new routing instances on-demand, and via support for non-disruptive service introductions in tandem with existing services.

Juniper noted that the vMX also helped A2B Internet to reduce costs by simplifying its network and eliminating delays associated with qualifying, maintaining and sparing physical routing elements. In addition, the vMX is designed to increase control plane scale and performance and allow efficient service scale-out while streamlining service providers' operations.

As with other Juniper products, the vMX solution runs on the Juniper Junos operating system that supports both physical and virtual platforms.

Calix AXOS SDA selected by billing solutions company GLDS

Calix, a supplier of Intelligent Access solutions, announced that customer management and billing solutions provider GLDS is utilising the AXOS common service model and standards-based interfaces to enable a 'integrate once, deploy often' business transformation.

The AXOS SDA (software-defined access) solution is designed to eliminate recurring OSS/BSS integration costs by allowing service providers to integrate AXOS without the need for custom IT and development. Once it has been tested and integrated using Calix's AXOS open APIs and common service data models, customers are able to quickly implement new AXOS systems supporting any PON and any PHY technology.

Additionally, AXOS Sandbox, a virtualised AXOS system software implementation, complements the AXOS architecture and helps speed OSS/BSS integration. AXOS Sandbox provides virtual instances of production Calix system software, allowing partners such as GLDS to create a subscriber-driven virtual network and to test the broadband services without the costs and time associated with traditional physical system deployment testing.

Calix noted that AXOS Sandbox exercises not only the management plane of the AXOS systems, but also the data plane and control plane.

Calix launched the AXOS Sandbox virtual environment in January of this year. AXOS Sandbox helps to speed service delivery by reducing lab testing time, BSS and OSS integration work, and software certification by deploying virtual instances of Calix AXOS systems. AXOS Sandbox uses open standard interfaces NetConf/Yang and OpenFlow, and is claimed to represent the first SDA solution, enabling SDN to be applied in access networks.

GLDS is a provider of billing, customer management and provisioning solutions for small to mid-sized broadband service providers worldwide. The company states that it has installed software for over 800 operators in 49 U.S. states and internationally in 45 countries worldwide.

Describing the technology, Shane Eleniak, Calix VP of product line leadership, said, "Calix (has) abstracted the service layer as well as the hardware layer, so it can re-use the OSS integration and apply it to any solution, creating a true any PON and any PHY experience for service providers… integration seal of approval from billing and operational system partners like GLDS gives joint customers the ability to deploy AXOS systems in any environment in a fraction of the time…".

Update on the telecommunications market in Poland, the EU's sixth largest economy - Part 3

Brief profiles of the main operators

Leading operator Orange Polska

Orange Polska is 50.67% owned by the Orange Group and 49.33% by miscellaneous shareholders. The company claims that it is the largest telecommunications services provider in Poland with the largest fibre network covering 37 cities. As noted in Part 1, as of the end of 2015, according to statistics provided by the Polish communications regulator UKE, Orange Polska had a leading market share of 27.7% of the mobile services market and is also the Internet market leader with a 30% market share of fixed and mobile Internet markets. Although its revenue share of mobile services in 2015 according to UKE was around 40%. The company currently owns four 15 year mobile licences in its own right, i.e. one for LTE, one for UMTS and two for GSM, but also participates via a joint mobile networking venture with T-Mobile Polska in that company's licences.

The company reported its fourth quarter and full year results on February 13th as follows (Euro millions):

2016; 2015; 2014

Gross revenue: 2,644; 2,831; 2,913

O/W mobile services: 1,222; 1,314; 1,365

O/W mobile equipment: 249; 154; 102

OW fixed services: 1,068; 1,215; 1,319

O/W other: 105; 148; 132

O\W intra: 33; 31; 35

Adjusted EBITDA: 922; 842; 725

Capex in 2016 was PLN2.001 billion flat with PLN 1.998 billion in 2015.

Orange Polska took a significant goodwill impairment of Euro 507 million in 2016, based primarily on a decrease in competiveness on the ADSL market, a downward adjustment of the revenue estimates for the mobile market and an increase in the post-tax discount rate due to a decline in the country's sovereign rating by the rating agencies. The net carrying value of assets tested was brought down to the value in use of long-term assets and working capital at 100% at December 31, 2016 (Euro 3.8 billion).

As of the end of 2016, during which 755,000 additional households were passed by its fibre network, Orange Polska's had the capability to serve 1.5 million households in Poland with a fibre-based service. Actual connected fibre customers increased by 31,000 in Q4 2016 to 88,000 by the end of 2016, and according to the company as of early February it had over 100,000 subscribers. According to Orange Polska's CEO Jean-Francois Fallacher, 51% of the company's fibre customers take more than one service and 80% of the fibre customers the company added in Q4 2016 were completely new ones.

Orange Polska states its base of converged customers (those with more than one service) has grown from 539,000 in 2013, to 728,000 in 2015 and 879,000 at the end of 2016. On average, each of these customers takes at least four Orange services. According to its latest annual report for 2016, one of the key strategic objectives of Orange Polska is to be the 'convergence leader', providing mobile and fixed-line service bundles. The company says that it is the only Polish operator providing bundled services to the mass market and believes this gives it an edge over CATV companies that lack mobile service capability. In 2015, according to UKE it ranked second in subscriber terms in the bundled services market with a market share of about 15.3%,

Mainly as a result of the growth in fibre customers, Orange Polska's high-end broadband customers increased by 56,000 to reach 500,000, or about 25% of the company's total broadband customer base. Orange Polska has around a 55% share of the fixed telephony market, which also translates into a similar share of the xDSL market.

In December 2016, Orange Polska signed the extension of a cooperation, first set up in 2011, with T-Mobile Polska related to the sharing of network transmission  based on new 4G LTE technologies operating in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands I

In December 2015 an EU Court upheld the decision of the EC of June 2011 that imposed a fine of Euro 128 million on Orange Polska for abusing its dominant position in the wholesale market for broadband Internet access in Poland. An Orange Polska appeal with the Court of Justice of the EU is due to be heard in 2017. In 2011, the Polish Competition Authority (UOKiK) sanctioned the four major Polish mobile operators, including Orange Polska, for collusion to delay the development of new services in the mobile television market. This sanction was nullified by the court for the protection of competition and consumers. UOKiK appealed and the decision of the court of appeal is expected in March 2017.

P4, operating as Play

P4 (Netia Mobile) of Warsaw is Poland's second largest mobile operator with a subscriber share in 2015 according to UKE of over 25%. In June 2016 Reuters quoted local news-source Puls Biznesu as saying that unnamed informants had told it the owners of P4, namely Greek fund Tollerton owned by Olympia Development and its Icelandic counterpart Novator, were aiming to sell the operator based on a valuation of around $3 billion. .The newspaper listed big private equity funds including KKR, Blackstone, Cinven, Advent and CVC as potential buyers. However, in early October 2016 Reuters reported that Tollerton had abandoned the idea as offers had not met their expectations.

In November 2016, P4 published results for Q3 2016, with total revenue up 12.8% YoY to PLN 1.566 billion. Total contract customers grew by 370,000 to 8 million and the total customer base reached 14.6 million. In March P4 reported that over 2016 its YoY revenues had grown by 12.5% and that it had ended the year with 14.41 million mobile customers, of which 58% were post-paid.

On March 10th it was announced that P4 had entered into a PLN 7 billion senior facilities agreement with at least eight banks, which would be used to refinance the outstanding debt of the group and a revolving credit facility.

Update on the telecommunications market in Poland, the EU's sixth largest economy - Part 1
Update on the telecommunications market in Poland, the EU's sixth largest economy - Part 2
Update on the telecommunications market in Poland, the EU's sixth largest economy - Part 3