Monday, April 10, 2017

AT&T Buys 39 GHz and 28 GHz Licenses for $1.6 Billion

AT&T agreed to acquire Straight Path Communications, which holds a nationwide portfolio of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses.

Specifically, AT&T will acquire 735 mmWave licenses in the 39 GHz band and 133 licenses in the 28 GHz band. These licenses cover the entire United States, including all of the top 40 markets.

The deal was valued at $1.6 billion, which includes liabilities and amounts to be remitted to the FCC per the terms of Straight Path’s January 2017 consent decree.  Straight Path shareholders will receive $1.25 billion, or $95.63 per share, which will be paid using AT&T stock.

AT&T said the purchase completment its January acquisition of FiberTower and augments the company’s holdings of mmWave spectrum.

The transaction is subject to FCC review, and the two companies expect to close within 12 months.

Megaport Launches Exchange Marketplace

Megaport, which provides SDN-based Elastic Interconnect Services, announced the launch of Megaport Exchange, a marketplace hosted on the Megaport Portal .

The service is intended to function as a data centre and service provider neutral, self-serve marketplace enabling enterprises to access business critical services on demand.

Key features:

  • Neutral, inclusive marketplace: Megaport is data centre agnostic, meaning that customers can access Megaport Exchange and tap into services by some of the world’s leading technology providers without being locked to a single data centre provider.
  • Rapid and agile connectivity: Enterprise customers can find and connect to providers around the world in as little as 59 seconds.
  • Self-serve: Putting the control back in the hands of Enterprise customers, they can connect with who they want when they want, to meet their specific business needs, in an easy to use manner.

“Megaport Exchange is an example of the commitment by Megaport to continue evolving and adding value for our customers,” said Vincent English, CEO of Megaport. “We’ve added Megaport Exchange to our product suite to enhance the customer experience, enabling them to connect to each other and to partners across our Ecosystem. We are proud to showcase our providers to the market and continue to be the leader in the networking space. Finding a way to match our powerful Ecosystem with our wide customer base was the logical next step for the company and this marketplace aligns perfectly with our vision to make connectivity easy.”

Australia's nbn Connects 2m Broadband Customers

Australia's nbn, which is building a national broadband network, announced that subscribers are being signed up to its network at an accelerated rate, with two million homes and businesses now connected and more than 4.5 million premises able to order a retail service on the nbn network.

The company stated that retailers are connecting more than 28,000 end users to high speed Internet services on the nbn each week, compared with 12,000 per week a year ago. As a result, with two million premises activated on the network, nbn is now one quarter of the way towards its goal of connecting eight million homes and businesses to broadband services over the nbn by 2020.

nbn noted that the speed of implementing connections enabled by the use of FTTN technology as a part of its multi-technology mix strategy has helped increase activation rates, with more than 670,000 premises connected to services over its FTTN and fibre-to-the-basement network within 18 months of launch.

In addition, the deployment of the nbn network is continuing to increase, with retailers currently able to offer services to more than 4.5 million premises, up by 1.3 million premises compared with March 2016.

nbn currently expects to reach the halfway point of the network roll-out around the middle of this year, and by mid-2018 expects to have the network deployment three quarters completed towards the 2020 goal of having 8 million premises connected.

As part of its multi-technology mix model, nbn recently announced plans to launch fixed wireless broadband services offering 100/40 Mbit/s wholesale speed tiers, primarily for customers in rural areas. The service is scheduled to be available from in early 2018. It noted that the fixed wireless network offers wholesale speeds of up to 50/20Mbit/s to nearly 500,000 premises across regional Australia, with around 170,000 premises are already connected.

For the six-month period ended December 31, 2016, nbn reported it had reached 3.8 million premises passed by the nbn, with 1.6 million premises connected to services. The company stated that as of December 2016 the weekly run rate for customer connections had reached approximately 20,000.

Zayo provides multiple 100G wavelengths for U.S. colocation provider

Zayo Group announced that it has been selected by a major colocation provider for a wavelength solution to connect facilities in the U.S., specifically a 100 Gbit/s wavelength solution linking data centres that will serve as the company's backbone.

Zayo stated that the solution will leverage its existing fibre infrastructure, including the recently acquired network of Electric Lightwave.

The solution being delivered to the colocation provider includes more than 20 diverse routes and will enable the customer to consolidate infrastructure providers, thereby helping to reduce complexity and improve efficiency. The long haul wavelength solution will provide a significant upgrade of the customers existing network to support both current workloads and address future growth.

Zayo announced in March that it had closed its $1.42 billion acquisition of Electric Lightwave (formerly Integra Telecom), an infrastructure and telecom services provider serving 35 markets in the western U.S., adding 8,100 route miles of long haul fibre and 4,000 miles of dense metro fibre across Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Spokane and Boise.

Recently, Zayo announced it had been selected by a multinational retailer for a global WAN solution to support the company's expanding presence in the APAC region. The Zayo solution specifically included a trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific ring that supports connectivity across four continents. The solution featured wavelengths and Ethernet connectivity and linked locations between the U.S. and London, the U.S. and Singapore, and London and Singapore, and included dedicated capacity on the new SEA-ME-WE-5 cable system.
Earlier this year, Zayo announced that a global webscale cloud provider had selected it to provide metro dark fibre in Chicago, including connecting six data centre locations with 20 diverse segments totalling 280 strands across all segments and with up to 26 strands per segment.

Microsemi integrates Athena Cryptographic Processor into FPGAs

Microsemi and The Athena Group, a supplier of security, cryptography, anti-tamper and signal processing IP cores, announced that Athena's TeraFire cryptographic microprocessor has been integrated into Microsemi's recently introduced PolarFire FPGA 'S class' family.

Athena's TeraFire cryptographic microprocessor technology is designed to address cybersecurity requirements for a range of industries via support for the most commonly used cryptographic algorithms, including those certified for military/government use by the U.S. NIST's Suite B, as well as those recommended in the U.S. Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) suite. TeraFire also supports algorithms and key sizes commonly used in Internet communications protocols, such as TLS, IPSec, MACSec and KeySec.

Microsemi's secure, cost-optimised PolarFire FPGAs offer low power consumption at mid-range densities with 12.7 Gbit/s SerDes transceivers, as well as high reliability, and target applications including wireline access networks and cellular infrastructure, smart connected factory, functional safety and secure communications.

PolarFire FPGAs' transceivers also offer support for multiple serial protocols, making them suitable for communications applications with 10 Gigabit Ethernet, CPRI, JESD204B, Interlaken and PCIe. In addition, the ability to implement serial gigabit Ethernet (SGMII) on general purpose input/output (GPIO) enables multiple 1 Gigabit Ethernet links to be supported.

Microsemi noted that the TeraFire cryptographic microprocessor enables a significant improvement in built-in cryptographic capabilities compared to SRAM-based FPGAs and has been adopted by both defence and commercial customers as a result of its flexibility and efficiency.

Athena's TeraFire cryptographic microprocessors can operation at up to 200 MHz. The TeraFire core provides advanced countermeasures against side-channel analysis (SCA) techniques such as DPA and differential electro-magnetic analysis (DEMA) that could otherwise be used to extract secret keys from the device, with supported algorithms that use a secret or private key offered with countermeasures against SCA.

Microsemi's PolarFire 'S class' FPGAs equipped with Athena TeraFire cryptographic microprocessor are scheduled to be available by the end of the second quarter of 2017.

ZTE Unveils Elastic SD-WAN

ZTE announced at the Open Networking Summit (ONS) the introduction of its elastic software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, designed to allow enterprise customers to make more effective use of their network and data centre resources by providing an end-to-end (E2E) ICT solution.

Integrating SDN and NFV technology, ZTE's Elastic SD-WAN is designed to enable users to implement the entire networking and service delivery process, including E2E connectivity, service purchase and launch and maintenance. With the solution, users can purchase plug-and-play equipment to enable one-touch configuration and purchase 'buy-and-play' services.

The SD-WAN solution integrates ICT and networking functionality and features service virtualisation to help reduce capex and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and includes locally deployed virtual value-added services (vVAS). The unified service orchestration and one-key automated deployment capabilities are designed to speed implementation and allow faster service launch, as well as an enhanced user experience.

Leveraging the open cloud platform and application platform provided by ZTE Elastic SD-WAN, application service providers can create value-added services and distribute them to users through the ZTE cloud application. This is intended to offer a complete ecosystem and product chain spanning platform, application and distribution channels. ZTE noted that it has cooperated with over 20 application service providers addressing the retailing, manufacturing and transportation verticals.

China Telco Data and Market Update - Part 2

Preamble - Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu dominate China's Internet

According to a Wikipedia analysis of the world's largest Internet companies based on 2015 revenue and 2013 capitalisation, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu ranked 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively, after Amazon, Google and Facebook. Their collective capitalisations stated in the review added to about the same as No. 2 Google, although their collective revenue was only just over half of Google's and they collectively employed about 50% more people. For the moment, the comparison lacks point since the Chinese and U.S. companies hardly meet commercially. Amazon, for instance, over more than a decade has struggled to compete with Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall online e-commerce shopping sites, and according to analysts still has no more than a 1-3% market share in China and is now much more interested in India.

Since 2009 Facebook has been mainly banned in China, although an article of November 2016 in the New York Times ('Facebook said to develop censorship tool to get back into China') described energetic efforts by Mark Zuckerberg to solve that problem, including several visits to China, learning some Mandarin and more crucially developing internal censorship software that would block certain sites in certain regions. Facebook still retains an office in Beijing and apparently continues to provide some business-side services.

Google also quit the Chinese retail market in 2010 (but still has offices in Beijing and Shanghai housing a mix of engineers and support staff that help Chinese companies sell ads that reach foreign Google users, and is said to be continuing to work with Chinese banks to enable the use of its apps overseas), but equally has been searching for ways to effectively and honourably return. In early October 2016 at a press conference in Beijing, a Bloomberg reporter asked Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (which oversees Internet governance), if the government would permit the two companies to re-enter the market, and was told they could do so providing they obeyed Chinese laws (hardly a surprising reply and one Chinese companies would equally expect to receive in the U.S.).

For the moment these three Chinese Internet companies, and several other smaller ones such as JD Com (with a market cap of more than $36 billion and recently acquired Walmart's e-commerce business in China), Sohu, Qihoo 360 Technology, Netease, CTrip, VIpshop Holdings and Suning (which a mid-2016 China Daily report said made up China's Top 10 in this sector), all compete with each other. Given the Chinese economy's ferocious GDP growth-rate of 6.5% a year (which if maintained implies a doubling of an already huge economy within 12 years), that competition is proportionately ferocious and made even more so due to the fact that in a social structure that lacks many retail facilities taken for granted in the west, such as high-street banks and nationwide bricks and mortar retail outlets, e-commerce is proportionately much more important in China than in most developed countries. In addition, China is a very technically ambitious country which has clear targets of becoming a world leader in most modern technologies within a decade or so. Consequently, these companies are in a remarkable business frenzy, growing fast, diversifying widely and innovating as fast as they can manage. Diversification directions include news portals, movies, online books, banking and AI.

Recent news about Chinese Internet companies

Tencent, having passed Alibaba in capitalisation, now the 4th largest Internet company

On March 22nd Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings of Shenzhen, the world's fourth largest Internet and world's largest gaming company founded in 1998 by its current CEO and chairman Ma Huateng (or Pony Ma), and which overtook Alibaba in capitalisation in 2015, reported:

·         Revenue up 48% YoY to RMB 151.9 billion ($21.9 billion) in 2016, with Q4 revenue up 44%.

·         Net profit up 43% to RMB 41 billion$5.9 billion), with Q4 profit of RMB 10.5 billion ($1.5 billion), but below an expected RMB 11 billion projected average by analysts.

·         Monthly users for its WeChat free mobile communications voice and text service (known in China as Weixin) up to 889 million.

·         That it was recently ranked as the top mobile publisher of 2016 based on revenue, ahead of Supercell of Helsinki at No.2 (in June 2016 Tencent announced it had agreed to pay $8.6 billion, mostly to Softbank, which owns 72.7% of the company, to acquire 84% of Supercell, with revenue in 2015 of Eurs 2.11 billion).

·         Online games revenue in Q4 2016 of RMB 18.5 billion, including smartphone games revenue of RMB 10.7 billion ($1.55 billion).

·         Online advertising sales of RMB 8.3 billion.

·         That Weixin Pay, a payment option integrated into WeChat, had reached 600 million monthly users and reported a peak 760,000 'red packets' (e-gifts) per second (and a total of 46 billion overall) during the recent Chinese New Year period. WeChat's payment network with an estimated 33% market share domestically is beginning to become a serious threat to the Alipay service, currently China’s dominant digital payment system owned by Yahoo, SoftBank and Alibaba, with an estimated 55% share.

·         The introduction in January 2017 of a WeChat feature called Mini Apps, which are lite versions of certain apps such as for buying tickets or shopping or hiring a Mobike, that users can access by scanning a QR code without having to download and install the full version of the app.

On March 24th Nvidia of Santa Clara, California reported that Tencent Cloud would integrate its GPU computing and deep learning platform, including its P100 and P40 accelerators, into its public cloud computing platform.

To get an idea of the speed of development, one only has to look at Tencent's announcements in March 2017, as follows:

·         On March 3rd Ma Huateng, China's fourth richest man, speaking at a press conference before the National People’s Congress was due to set its agenda, proposed the setting up of a world-class technology zone in southern China that would include the financial centre of Hong Kong and gambling city of Macau, allied to the manufacturing skills of Shenzhen, to preside over the global tech revolution of the future.

·         On March 23rd Tencent said it was planning an IPO of up to $500 million in Hong Kong of its China Reading e-book business to enable it to increase spending on payments and content to enhance its WeChat service.

·         Also on March 23rd, Zhang Tong, the newly appointed director of Tencent's 250-strong AI unit, gave a press conference in which he outlined the unit's strategy and objectives. The group will work initially on speech recognition to enable machines to converse with human beings and on datamining of commercial information and insight available in the WeChat and QQ instant messaging archives; the team also works on content generation, including creating automated news stories, photos and music. Ma Huateng said the company may also explore AI technology for driverless cars and online health care in the future.

·         On March 23rd it was also announced that Kuaishou, a Chinese video streaming service popular with rural communities and migrant workers, and which claims 50 million daily active users, had raised $350 million in a funding round led by Tencent supported by Baidu.

Japan's EneCom selects Nokia for 100G

Nokia announced it has been selected to deploy a 100 Gbit/s network in the Chogoku area of Japan for Energia Communications (EneCom), the main utility and telecommunications company in the area.

With the deployment of an advanced optical transport system integrated with 100/200 Gbit/s coherent technology, the Nokia solution is designed to transform EneCom's transport network and enable more flexible and reliable services. The network is being deployed in the Chugoku area on Japan's main island, Honshu, encompassing the major cities of Okayama and Hiroshima.

Under the agreement, Nokia will deploy its 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) to provide integrated, ultra-wideband wavelength routing and switching to optimise EneCom's networks to support fluctuating traffic demand. The solution is based on Nokia's advanced super coherent digital signal processor, the Photonic Service Engine 2 (PSE-2), and also features GMPLS and CDC-F ROADM functionality.

The upgrade is designed to enable EneCom to meet increasing traffic demands, as well as offer protection during natural disasters. The network features real-time optical fibre supervision, which provides monitoring and allows fibre breaks to be located, for improved operations and maintenance efficiency and increased reliability.

Previously, in early 2016 Nokia and EneCom announced the commercial deployment of technology in Japan to allow the ICT service provider to utilise existing copper networks to deliver up to 1 Gbit/s broadband access to residential subscribers. It was noted the deployment followed a technology trial conducted in 2015. EneCom was to initially deploy in the Chugokua region of Japan starting June 2016.

EneCom specifically selected Nokia's 7367 Intelligent Service Access Manager (ISAM) SX-16 to enable connectivity for multiple, and the 7368 ISAM CPE F-010G-P for home devices. It was also to install the 5520 Access Management System. EneCom had also previously announced trials of Nokia's TWDM-PON technology.

Huawei introduces CloudEngine modules for Ansible automation framework

Huawei announced the release of CloudEngine switch networking modules, core components of its CloudFabric data centre network solution, for Ansible, an agentless open source IT automation framework.

Huawei's CloudEngine networking modules can be deployed in production environments to help provide more secure, efficient and reliable automated network operation and maintenance (O&M).

Huawei noted that as enterprises focus on adopting a devops model, the upstream Ansible project is a popular open source automation project on GitHub that helps developers and IT operators to quickly deploy IT applications and environments. Ansible enables users to reduce barriers between IT teams by automating routine activities such as network configuration, cloud deployments and the creation of development environments.

Ansible's modular code base, combined with a simplified contribution process and a community of contributors in GitHub, enables the IT automation platform to both manage modern infrastructure and adapt to changing new IT needs and devops workflows.

The CloudFabric Open Ecosystem is a project designed to eliminate barriers between vendors of cloud platforms, management tools, network devices and network services, and to combine the capabilities to improve the functionality of data centre network solution integration and support solution development. The CloudFabric ecosystem is enhanced via open source Ansible networking modules developed and maintained by Huawei, designed to allow automated deployment and configuration and to enhance network O&M.

The new CloudEngine switch networking modules for Ansible offer support for automated configuration and query for a range of network features, including basic features AAA and SNMP and Layer 2-4 features such as VLAN, VXLAN, BGP, EVPN and ACL to help improve the efficiency of feature deployment and reduce configuration error rates.

Regarding the integration, Greg DeKoenigsberg, director, Ansible community, commented, "The community introduced network automation support in the Ansible open source project to enable network infrastructure to be managed in the simple… agentless manner that systems and applications already use… this can help network teams take advantage of new deployment paradigms, including configuration automation, test-driven network deployment and continuous compliance".