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%.)