Thursday, June 15, 2017

OIF approves virtual transport network service IA

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), which met recently in Ljubljana, Slovenia for a quarterly technical committee conference, announced that it has approved an implementation agreement (IA) for an optical virtual transport network service (VTNS) and also made progress on the 400G-ZR project.


A virtual transport network service (VTNS) constitutes the creation and delivery of a virtual network (VN) by a provider to a user based on the virtualisation of transport network resources. VNs can be dynamically created, deleted or modified, while users are able to perform connection management, monitoring and protection within the VN.

In specifying the new VTNS IA, OIF aims to identify the requirements and characteristics of different virtual network service types, such as dynamic and static behaviours. The new IA is also intended to define the attributes and parameters required for these service types and the requirements for support of service recovery and OAM.

The OIF noted that different types of VTNS could be associated with operators offering, for example, bandwidth-on-demand (BoD) services, network-as-a-service (NaaS) or network slicing for 5G networking.

400G-ZR update

The OIF's 400G-ZR interoperability project, launched in November 2016, was formed to address both 400 Gbit/s ZR and short-reach DWDM multi-vendor interoperability requirements, such as might be required for cloud-scale data centre interconnect (DCI) applications. It noted that the project has now received 10 technical contributions relating to areas including power consumption of DSP, FEC proposals, and experimental demonstrations.

In addition, it was announced that at the recent quarterly meeting the OIF elected Tad Hofmeister of Google to its board of directors, filling a vacant seat on the board.

GTT establishes Enterprise, Carrier, EMEA Divisions

GTT Communications, a global cloud networking provider to multinational clients, which in January completed the acquisition of Hibernia Networks, announced it has established three new divisions - Enterprise, Carrier and EMEA - intended to accelerate sales growth and enhance services for customers.

Each of the new divisions is responsible for the primary customer experience functions, including sales, quoting, ordering, service delivery and collections.

In conjunction with forming the new divisions, GTT has appointed three division presidents:

1.         Eric Warren is to lead the Enterprise division, including all enterprise customers across the Americas and U.S. government clients; Mr. Warren recently joined GTT having previously held senior executive roles at companies including Windstream and tw telecom.

2.         Jeff Beer will lead the Carrier division, including all carrier accounts in the Americas and GTT's largest web-centric clients; Mr. Beer has held a number of executive roles at GTT during the past eight years, having joined the company via its acquisition of Tinet.

3.         Martin Ford is to head the EMEA division, encompassing enterprise clients in EMEA and carrier clients across EMEA and APAC; Mr. Ford joined GTT's leadership team through its acquisition of Hibernia Networks, and previously served with Level 3.

  • GTT has recently announced the launch of Optical Transport and Managed SD-WAN services. The Optical Transport offering is designed to provide customers with scalable bandwidth and low latency connectivity for the transport of data and cloud-based applications between financial markets, data centres, media hubs and service provider networks.
  • The Managed SD-WAN service, using technology from VeloCloud, offers features including dynamic bandwidth management, optimised application performance and the ability to integrate network technologies into the corporate WAN.
  • Hibernia Networks and GTT announced in early January this year the completion of the transaction under which GTT acquired Hibernia. The companies originally announced a transaction in early November 2016, through which GTT was to purchase Hibernia for $590 million, including $515 million in cash and approximately 3.3 million shares of GTT common stock valued at around $75 million.

Profile of Orange, a global operation with big ambitions, slow, steady growth – Part 2


Orange is perhaps the global carrier with operations in the most diverse geographies and cultures. From its headquarters in Paris, Orange (formerly France Telecom) now serves 265.162,000 subscribers worldwide with mobile, broadband, fixed telephony, TV and a range of advanced enterprise services. Part 1 covered the company’s recent performance indicators, this part will cover two growth segments for Orange: Africa and mobile money.

Ambitions for Africa

Orange currently is the No.1 or No.2 mobile network by market share in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 120 million customers. As of last August, Orange had launched 4G in 9 of these countries, with network upgrades planned or underway in all of these markets. The stated ambition is for Orange revenue in Africa and the Middle East to grow 20% over the 2015 to 2018 time frame. For 2016, Orange reported Euro 5.2 billion in revenue from Africa and Middle East (12% of the group total). The company views this region as a strategic priority given the young and growing population, as well as the lower mobile penetration and broadband adoption rates compared with developed markets in Europe.

One obstacle to overcome in the region is the lack of financial services for large segments of the population. For the past few years, Orange is striving to develop a mobile money service that could turn this situation into a strategic differentiator for its mobile networks. Orange Money is its flagship capability for money transfers and mobile financial services, currently available in 17 countries and with more than 31 million customers. To manage risk associated with its electronic money operations, Orange has set up a dedicated organization, CECOM, based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. CECOM reports to the Orange Group and provides second-level control for the Orange Money business, which exceeded one billion Euros of transactions in June 2016.

For many subscribers, Orange Money is their first experience with an electronic bank but, over time, Orange Money is moving beyond basic banking. Earlier this year, Orange Money announced a partnership with Vivo Energy that enables customers to cash in and cash out money from their Orange Money account and pay in any of the 1,000+ Shell service stations operated by Vivo Energy. The services are already available in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar. Orange Money expects to have this operational across the rest of its common footprint by mid-2017.

The latest project in Africa is the expansion of the Orange brand in May 2017 to Liberia, where the former Cellcom Liberia has just become Orange Liberia. This was accomplished via acquisition of the Liberian operator Cellcom by Orange Côte d’Ivoire. Cellcom Liberia, founded in 2004, claimed over 1.6 million customers at the end of February 2017. The Republic of Liberia, which has a population of about 4.5 million, has a relatively low mobile penetration rate of 70%. Cellcom Liberia launched its 4G LTE network last year, with the construction of 29 sites. Now that it has taken over operations, Orange plans to accelerate the 4G network upgrade across the country, including in areas that are still awaiting basic telecom services. Approximately three-quarters of the population resides outside of the capital city of Monrovia.

Previously, in 2016 Orange acquired the second largest mobile operator in Burkina Faso from Airtel. Burkina Faso, with a population of approximately 18 million, has one of the strongest growth rates (5.8%) in the Economic Community of West African States, and a mobile penetration rate of about 80% as of last year. The deal with Airtel brought 4.6 million customers.

Also in 2016, the Orange brand replaced the Méditel brand in Morocco. Orange’s Moroccan subsidiary had 14.2 million customers at the end of September 2016, the second largest total within the group’s Middle East and African footprint, after Orange Egypt, and contributing close to 10% of its revenue in this region. The group's interest in Morocco goes back to 2010, when France Telecom invested Euro 640 million to acquire a 40% stake in Méditel. The Méditel network includes more than 5,400 km of optical fibre and more than 4,000 radio sites throughout the kingdom.

However, despite the many new markets and growing subscriber counts, the volatility of political and economic conditions in Africa always remains a worry. Over the past year, Orange said it was impacted by difficult conditions in Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Orange Brings mobile banking from Africa to Europe

Interestingly, several years after launching its Orange mobile banking service in African markets, Orange is now ready to bring it to Europe. In October 2014, Orange Finanse was introduced in Poland in partnership with mBank, the fourth largest retail bank. The company says Poland is where NFC (near field communication) has developed most fully in Europe, with 80% of payment terminals already equipped for contactless payments and more than 3 million users routinely using mobile payment services (Poland has a population of about 38 million).

Starting in July, Orange is launching a mobile bank for its home market of France. Launch materials distributed to the press state this new business is organised as Orange Bank SA, with capital of Euro 297,575,712 and a commercial relationship with Visa. In addition to standard banking services, Orange will provide money transfers via SMS, as well as a virtual assistant driven by artificial intelligence. Ultimately, Orange Bank aims to have more than 2 million customers in France, where it currently has around 30 million mobile users. Orange's ambition is to reach Euro 400 million in revenue in 2018 in the financial services field across all markets.

Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange has commented that the commercial launch of Orange Bank for the general public in July marks an important new chapter in the group's history, with Orange also a bank that places customer experience at the heart of its business model. He added that Orange Bank will build on the professional skills of its banking experts, the disruptive capability of its partnerships with start-ups and the traditional assets of Orange: its distribution network, its expertise in digital services and financial strength. By bringing together these different sources of energy, it aims to meet the expectations of customers in a way that will enable it to adapt as their needs evolve.

How to Scale IoT?

There are two stages to scaling IoT solutions, says Mobeen Khan, IoT Strategy& Project Management, AT&T.  The first happens during the prototyping and second when you've figured out what you are going to build and now need to deploy hundreds of thousands of end devices.

See video:

Shaw purchases 700/2500 MHz spectrum, divests ViaWest

Canada's Shaw Communications announced it has entered into a series of transactions designed to enhance long-term growth opportunities, specifically a share purchase agreement with GI Partners portfolio company Peak 10 to sell its subsidiary ViaWest for approximately C$2.3 billion ($1.675 billion) and an agreement with Quebecor Media to acquire 700 MHz and 2,500 MHz wireless spectrum licences for $430 million.

ViaWest transaction

ViaWest is a provider of hybrid IT solutions including colocation, cloud computing and security and compliance for North American enterprises. Under the agreement, ViaWest is being acquired by Peak 10 for approximately C$2.3 billion. Shaw noted that it originally invested $1.2 billion (approximately C$1.3 billion at the exchange rate at the time) in the operation.

Shaw expects to realise net cash proceeds from the ViaWest transaction of approximately C$900 million after the repayment of ViaWest level indebtedness of approximately $580 million, repayment of the $380 million Shaw credit facility borrowings associated with the original investment and subsequent INetU acquisition, and estimated transaction expenses and taxes.

The ViaWest transaction is subject to customary conditions, including U.S. regulatory approval, and is expected to close in fiscal year 2017, which ends in August. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

Spectrum transaction

Shaw also announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Quebecor Media for the acquisition of 700 MHz and 2,500 MHz wireless spectrum licences for a sum of $430 million. The spectrum licences being acquired comprise the 10 MHz licences of 700 MHz spectrum in each of British Columbia, Alberta, and Southern Ontario, as well as the 20 MHz licences of 2,500 MHz spectrum in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.

In addition to the spectrum acquisition cost, capex associated with the deployment of the acquired spectrum are estimated at approximately C$350 million. The company expects the bulk of the capital for the network build to be incurred during fiscal 2018. The spectrum transaction will be funded using a combination of cash proceeds from the ViaWest transaction, cash on hand and/or Shaw's existing credit facility.

The company stated that the spectrum transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and under the Competition Act. The transaction has received all required internal approvals at Shaw and Quebecor and is not subject to approval by the shareholders of Shaw or further approval by shareholders of Quebecor. The transaction is expected to close in the summer 2017.

Regarding the transactions, Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw, said, "With the acquisition of WIND, now Freedom Mobile, in 2016, Shaw has more synergistic investment opportunities as a leading enhanced connectivity provider in its Canadian footprint… I believe this incremental investment in the wireless business, particularly the addition of 700 MHz spectrum, will materially improve the long-term wireless customer experience and further enable Shaw to offer converged network solutions…".

Nokia demos AirScale to support 5G

Nokia announced that testing has highlighted the flexibility, upgradeability and scalability of its AirScale radio portfolio to adapt to support the frequency bands that will be used for the initial applications of 5G technology.

By demonstrating the ability of the AirScale platform to support both low and high bands, Nokia stated that operators will be able to provide both wide area and indoor coverage for early 5G operations without the need to carry out complicated network reconfigurations.

Nokia noted that 5G promises to change connectivity by delivering lower latency, increased spectral efficiency and improved energy efficiency, while the range of applications enabled by 5G, such as improved connectivity in dense urban environments to Industry 4.0 applications and fixed wireless access, will require the use of high-band frequencies (millimetre and centimetre wave) as well as the evolution of existing low-band frequencies.

At the 5G World Summit in London, UK, Nokia will showcase how AirScale, a core component of its 5G FIRST solution, can leverage its Flexi RF units that are already deployed by operators to enable the continued use of existing radio technology as they prepare to transition networks to 5G. During the event Nokia will also outline the use of different spectrum bands, ranging  from sub-1 GHz to millimetre wave, to meet expectations in terms of depth of coverage and higher capacity and data rates promised by 5G.

Nokia explained that 5G applications, such as connecting IoT devices, coverage for indoor environments and over large areas, necessitate the use of low-band frequencies. The company noted that the ability to utilise these bands has recently been verified in tests at its 5G labs in Finland, including the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 850 MHz frequencies.

  • Nokia showcased its 5G FIRST end-to-end solution incorporating AirScale and AirFrame technology at the Mobile World Congress in February. The 5G FIRST solution specifically features Nokia's AirScale massive MIMO adaptive antenna for 3.5 GHz, 4.5 GHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequency bands, cloud packet core and shared data layer and mobile transport elements. The solution is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2017.

Aricent upgrades Intelligent Switching for web scale data centres

Aricent, a global design and engineering company, has announced at Computex 2017 in Taiwan its Intelligent Switching Solution (ISS) release 10.1 upgrade, designed to support web scale data centres that run thousands of servers and network port speeds up to 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

Aricent stated that together with Marvell it is well-positioned to address scale-out data centres that deliver high performance and low latency networks. Aricent's Intelligent Switching Solution offers advanced control plane capabilities including cloud-native features, telemetry, machine learning, event-driven border gateway protocol (BGP), tunnelling and hypervisor connectivity.

Aricent's latest ISS offering can be combined with Marvell's Prestera 98CX84xx family of integrated packet processors to help enable data centre transitions to 100 Gigabit Ethernet speeds while providing advanced data centre features, virtualisation, service assurance and support for traffic analytics.

The latest Aricent ISS offering can be combined with its ConvergedOS on the new Marvell Prestera chipsets, which is designed to support the features required for top-of-rack and leaf-and-spine applications in data centres, private clouds and enterprise networks, including:

1.         Network virtualisation overlay with VXLAN, MP-BGP-based EVPN.

2.         Advanced QoS.

3.         Traffic monitoring with sFLOW and remote mirroring.

4.         Multi-chassis link-aggregation group (MC-LAG).

5.         Event-driven BGP and time synchronisation for packet tracing.
6.         Port density and flexible port speeds spanning 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

7.         Policy-based telemetry.

The Aricent ISS solution is a software-defined, performance-optimised networking infrastructure designed for the data centre, enterprise, SMB, industrial Ethernet and service provider markets.

Plexxi launches 25/50/100 GBE switches

Plexxi, a provider of Hyperconverged Networking (HCN) solutions, announced the introduction of its new Switch 3eq 25/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet switches and the latest versions of its Plexxi Control software-defined network fabric control and Connect integration and workflow automation software, including an enhanced Nutanix Integration Pack.

Plexxi stated that with the update Nutanix customers are able to integrate its HCN fabric with Nutanix Enterprise Cloud environments to create a single, unified solution, featuring scalable compute, storage and networking for both VMware and Nutanix Acropolis environments.

Plexxi Connect 2.3 enables the same network automation of VM lifecycle events that Plexxi provides for VMware environments to Nutanix Acropolis AHV environments. The new Nutanix Acropolis AHV Integration capability enables customers to deploy an HCN fabric that is Nutanix-aware.

Plexxi's Connect Integration Pack is designed to eliminate resource intensive, time-consuming system integration and testing efforts by allowing off-the-shelf integration between Plexxi and applications and infrastructure such as Nutanix. Nutanix integration leverages the elements of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform configuration, including: cluster nodes, hypervisors (Nutanix AHV or VMware ESXi) and Nutanix Controller Virtual Machine (CVM) information.

Additionally, the Plexxi Control software enables dynamic configuration and adapts the Plexxi network fabric in response to compute and storage events. A key capability is automatic detection of VMs that comprise the storage subsystem and allocation of secure, dedicated high-speed network over the converged fabric. This helps to ensure performance and service quality for diverse applications workloads and effective use of networking resources.

The Plexxi software also creates a graphical representation of the network topology that integrates with Nutanix Prism and displays its state and status to aid analysis of the network.

The enhanced Plexxi Control 3.1 offers increased control and security of the Plexxi HCN fabric and introduces users, roles and authentication for secure user access to Plexxi switches. It also allows users to identify the specific VLAN carrying traffic such as storage and create fabric paths dedicated to this traffic.

Finally, Plexxi Switch 3eq is the first switch in a new Switch 3 Entry Series family with support for 25/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet interface speeds. Based on the Broadcom Tomahawk chipset, Switch 3eq provides enhanced data centre port density of up to 128 x 10 or 25 Gbit/s interfaces, 64 x 50 Gbit/s or 32 x 40 or 100 Gbit/s interfaces in a 1U form factor.

Coriant Lands Strategic Invesment by Oaktree

Oaktree Capital Management, a leading global investment firm with over $100 billion in assets under management, has made a strategic investment in Coriant.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the agreement, Oaktree has partnered with Marlin Equity Partners to provide additional growth capital and operational capabilities that will enable Coriant to further accelerate its growth by capturing an increasing share of market opportunities across the globe.

“Coriant is a proven leader in innovative networking solutions with a strong commitment to leapfrog R&D and high-quality customer service,” said Cass Traub, a managing director at Oaktree. “We are confident in Coriant’s ability to expand its global market share in this dynamic industry, and look forward to providing both financial and operational support to take the company to the next level of growth.”

“We are excited to welcome Oaktree to the Coriant family and share a commitment to providing even greater solutions for our customers to effectively capitalize on key market trends and surging end-user demands driving new business opportunities, including 5G, IoT, Internet video, and super high-speed data,” said Shaygan Kheradpir, CEO and Chairman of Coriant.

ADI introduces 16-channel 12/16-bit D/A converters

Analog Devices announced a pair of integrated 16-channel digital-to-analogue (D/A) converters designed to significantly reduce the system footprint for wired telecoms systems without affecting performance, specifically with the introduction of the 12-bit AD5767 and 16-bit AD5766 devices targeting coherent optical systems for medium- to long-haul deployments.

Both of the new ICs integrate an array of discrete components to provide the required voltage ranges and additional system functionality in a small footprint. The D/A converters are suitable for applications in optical modules and electro-optical functions such as bias control, including Mach-Zehnder modulator-bias control.

Analog Devices new D/A converters are available in both space-saving 4 x 4 mm WLCSP and a 6 x 6 mm LFCSP packages and provide a range of unipolar or bipolar output voltages from the user-supplied 2.5 V reference, with outputs adjustable down to −20 V or as high as +14 V.

The output buffers can sink or source up to 20 mA, and the D/A converter is able to impose low-frequency dithering on outputs, eliminating the need for external circuitry. In addition, an integrated output multiplexer allows each of the 16 channels to be monitored if required.

The pin- and footprint-compatible AD5766 is functionally identical to the AD5767 device, but offers 16-bit performance for applications that require the higher resolution. The AD5767 and AD5766 products employ a versatile 4-wire serial interface that can operate at clock rates of up to 50 MHz for write mode, and which is compatible with serial peripheral interface (SPI), QSPI, MICROWIRE and DSP interface standards.

Analog Devices' new converters are offered in 4 x 4 mm WLCSP and 6 x 6 mm LFCSP packages, with an operating temperature range of -40 to +105 degrees C, with the AD5766 product sampling now and scheduled to be available in August 2017; the AD5767 product is sampling and available immediately.