Friday, August 4, 2017

SoftBank deploys Cisco NCS with Segment Routing

Cisco Systems GK announced that SoftBank of Japan has adopted the Cisco Network Convergence System 5500 Series to enable high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet routing and Segment Routing technology to optimise network operations for its next-generation mobile IP core network.

Cisco noted that mobile carriers such as SoftBank not only face the need to respond to the demands of user growth by delivering higher communication speeds, lower latency and dynamic provisioning that will be enabled by 5G networks, but also to deliver new mobile services to home and enterprise markets. SoftBank is planning to upgrade and expand its existing equipment that supports mobile Internet traffic, which is forecast to increase at a rate of 50% per year.

As part of this initiative, SoftBank has upgraded the core routers used in its existing network to the Cisco NCS 5500 Series, which is capable of supporting 576 x 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports. This capacity will enable the company to build a next-generation mobile IP core network able to meet the bandwidth demands from the deployment of new services such as IoT and mobile video.

Cisco noted that the next-generation mobile IP core network is able to support high-traffic volume and to reduce fault recovery time to help improve the processes for ensuring the high reliability of services in the event a fault occurs.

In addition, SoftBank has become the first company in Japan to introduce Segment Routing technology provided by Cisco, which is designed to simplify and optimise the mobile IP core network and facilitate the automation of network operations.

Cisco's Segment Routing TI-LFA capability is designed to reduce fault recovery time while also improving reliability and redundancy. This can enable the provisioning of a more reliable mobile network while delivering an enhanced user experience for SoftBank's consumer and corporate customers.

Through the deployment, SoftBank is aiming to become more competitive by enabling the rapid, flexible deployment of reliable services leveraging a core network that can support traffic demand while providing low operating costs.

Cisco noted that according to its recent Mobile Visual Networking Index Forecast (VNI) 2016-21, global mobile data traffic will increase seven-fold to 1.4 zettabytes over the period, driven by increasing mobile users, smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT), higher network speeds and rising mobile video consumption.

Peak 10 completes acquires ViaWest from Shaw for $1.67bn

Peak 10, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced that it has completed its acquisition of ViaWest through an agreement announced on June 13, 2017, positioning the combined company as a major national provider of hybrid IT solutions including colocation, interconnection, cloud, managed solutions and professional services with more than 4,200 customers nationwide.

The combined solution portfolio of the new company is designed to help organisations with their IT transformation projects while addressing cost, scalability, compliance and security requirements.

Following the combination, the company, renamed Peak 10 + ViaWest, offers a suite of assets that spans 20 domestic and international markets. The company operates 40 redundant data centres, 2.7 million sq feet of data centre space, 13 cloud nodes and more than 10,000 cross connects, supported by 1,000-plus dedicated staff. Through the combination, customers will gain increased scale and geographic coverage.

To support the company's increased geographic footprint and strategic growth, Peak 10 + ViaWest has expanded its senior leadership team. Chris Downie will remain as chief executive officer, while Nancy Phillips will serve as the executive chair of the board of the combined company.

  • ViaWest was acquired by Peak 10 from Canada's Shaw Communications. The transaction involved a share purchase agreement with GI Partners portfolio company Peak 10 to buy ViaWest for approximately C$2.3 billion ($1.675 billion).

Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm Demo LAA at 953 Mbit/s

Verizon announced that in what is believed to be a U.S. wireless industry first, it has partnered with Ericsson, and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, to demonstrate a mobile data rate of 953 Mbit/s in a joint commercial network deployment in Boca Raton, Florida.

Verizon noted that while lab tests have achieved comparable speeds in recent demonstrations, this is the fastest speed announced to date that has been achieved in a real-world, dynamic network environment leveraging Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

The demonstration utilised commercially available Verizon network components including a cell site, hardware, software and backhaul, with Ericsson providing the advanced remote radio head. The Ericsson micro Radio 2205 for LAA, designed for unlicensed spectrum use, is compact, provides for flexible mounting and is a component of the Ericsson Radio System, an end-to-end modular radio network portfolio of hardware and software designed for any site type and traffic scenario as networks transition towards 5G.

In addition, for the trial Qualcomm Technologies provided a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform test device equipped with Gigabit LTE capability leveraging the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

Verizon stated that the latest demonstration used a combination of the latest 4G LTE wireless technologies to deliver the higher mobile speeds. Technology employed included carrier aggregation, which enables multiple spectrum channels to be combined to allow data to be carried more efficiently and faster peak speeds.

Verizon noted that it was the first U.S. carrier to launch LTE Advanced with two channel carrier aggregation nationally last year, and has subsequently completed the deployment of three channel carrier aggregation using its licensed spectrum.

To achieve latest near-gigabit mobile speeds, Verizon used a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for the first time. The four carrier aggregation utilises LAA to combine its spectrum holdings with unlicensed spectrum via home and commercial WiFi connectivity.

The demonstration with Ericsson and Qualcomm Technoogies also involved technology including 4 x 4 MIMO, which uses multiple antennae at the cell tower and on consumers' devices to optimise data rates, 256QAM, allowing customer devices and the network to exchange information in larger amounts and thereby to deliver more bits of data in each transmission.

  • Recently, AT&T announced that it had achieved mobile speeds of 650 Mbit/s using LTE and LAA technology in a field trial working with Ericsson, while T-Mobile announced it had demonstrated 741 Mbit/s mobile data rate in a field trial of LAA technology.

Microsemi unveils Switchtec PAX PCIe fabric switch

Microsemi, a major provider of semiconductor solutions, announced the availability of its new Switchtec PAX advanced fabric Gen3 PCIe switch, designed to provide high-performance fabric connectivity for scalable, multi-host systems and just a bunch of flash (JBOF) and supporting single root input/output (I/O) virtualisation (SR-IOV), NVMe and multi-function endpoints.

Microsemi noted that hyperconverged systems are shifting towards composable/disaggregated infrastructures (C/DI) such as rack scale architecture to meet the changing demands on resources and storage capacity of next-generation applications. PAX advanced fabric PCIe switches are designed to provide a scalable, low latency and cost-effective solution to the disaggregation of computing, networking, graphics processing units (GPUs) and storage resources.

The new PAX PCIe switches, which are flexibly interconnected with configurable high-speed fabric links, virtualise PCIe domains and SR-IOV endpoints. System development is simplified through a fabric application programming interface (API) and the ability to utilise off-the-shelf NVMe host drivers, reducing time-to-market for complex multi-host systems.

Microsemi's Switchtec PAX family features switches supporting from 96 lanes to 24 lanes and up to 48 ports, offering capabilities including:

1. PCIe fabric connectivity to address the limitations of the PCIe specification for rack scale multi-host systems.

2. Multi-host sharing of SR-IOV and multifunction endpoints.

3. Virtualisation of PCIe domains and SR-IOV NVMe SSDs, plus software development kit (SDK) for virtualisation of other SR-IOV endpoints and enclosure management.

4.  Flexible port bifurcation, enabling from x2 to x16 lanes per port.

5.  Advanced diagnostics and debug features to identify, diagnose and fix problems.

6.     Separate Refclk Independent SSC (SRIS) for cabled PCIe and lower cost system designs.

Microsemi's PCIe product portfolio includes the scalable, low power PFX family of PCIe Gen3 fanout switches, the programmable PSX family of PCIe Gen3 storage switches and the multi-protocol, adaptive EQNOX family of signal conditioners with FlexEQ equalisation technology supporting PCIe Gen3 and Gen2.

Mirantis expands NFV capabilities of MCP solution for telco, enterprise customers

Mirantis has announced a series of NFV-focused updates to Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP), optimised to facilitate deployment, operations and updates via DriveTrain and to support NFV for telecom operators, cable providers and enterprises.

The enhancements to Mirantis' MCP solution include:

1.         OVS-DPDK over bonded interfaces, which allows users to consume higher bandwidth over a single link aggregated interface.

2.         VLAN-aware VMs, enabling users to consume fewer vNICs, where previously a separate vNIC was required for each VLAN, thereby helping to reduce network complexity in virtualised environments.

3.         Per-VF QoS to offer support for bandwidth capping on a per-virtual-function level, permitting finer-grained traffic shaping and preventing 'noisy-neighbour' syndromes.

Mirantis stated that with MCP it is moving from the traditional software-centric method based on licensing and support subscriptions to offer an operations-centric approach, where open infrastructure is continuously delivered with an operations SLA via a managed service or by the end customer. This approach allows software updates to be introduced incrementally on a bi-weekly basis with no down time, rather than via major bi-annual or annual updates.

Launched in April, Mirantis Cloud Platform incorporates open source software such as OpenStack and Kubernetes, continuously delivered via the DriveTrain continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline and provided to customers in a build-operate-transfer delivery model designed to enable hybrid cloud operations at scale.

The MCP provides a single platform to orchestrate VMs, containers and bare metal compute resources through the inclusion of Kubernetes for container orchestration and supports virtual compute stacks complemented with open source software defined networking (SDN). It also features StackLight, enabling compliance to availability SLAs via continuous monitoring of the open cloud software stacks.

Mirantis' build-operate-transfer model provides customers with a turnkey experience, with Mirantis operating the cloud for a period of at least six months with up to four-nines SLA prior to offboarding operational responsibility to the customer, if required. This delivery model is designed to ensure that the customer's team and processes are aligned with devops best practices.

Windstream enhances SD-WAN offering with Concierge managed service

Windstream has announced the introduction of a more robust SD-WAN solution that is designed to provide customers with an enhanced managed SD-WAN experience.

Windstream's new SD-WAN solution includes additional broadband flexibility, improved self-service monitoring and control options, and a new SD-WAN Concierge managed service that is designed to automatically optimise application performance, enable lower costs and to simplify network management. Customers can also combine SD-WAN with Diverse Connect to gain a 100%-availability service level agreement (SLA).

Windstream's expanded SD-WAN solution offers customers:

1.         Concierge Service, a fully-managed service that helps customers effectively use SD-WAN via Windstream experts that proactively monitor and optimise network environments for application performance.

2.         Integrated SD-WAN management tool, which provides visibility and control of a customer's SD-WAN network via a centralised management portal, with the facility to deploy configurations for new locations, services and security policies.
3.         Business Aware Cloud Network, enabling dynamic traffic steering based on real time network conditions to improve application performance and the end-user experience.

4.         Industry-tailored cloud-based solutions, offering a suite of adjunct services designed to improve the customer experience, including cloud-based unified communications and security, with a tailored network to connect to services such as UCaaS, Cloud Connect, secure WiFi, and PCI suite.

Windstream's enhanced SD-WAN solution is available immediately to businesses within its national service area.

* Windstream launched its SD-WAN service in January of this year, and noted that it is working to enhance the SD-WAN solution following its merger with EarthLink. Windstream announced in November 2016 that it planned to acquire EarthLink for $1.1 billion; it announced in February that it had completed the transaction.

T-Mobile US continues market disruption

T-Mobile US delivered record service revenues, in Q2, along with strong net income, 1.3 million customer net additions and a record low churn. T-Mobile, which is the third largest wireless carrier in the United States, is clearly gaining post-paid customers at the expense of AT&T and Verizon. Moreover, T-Mobile takes credit for having pushed its two larger competitors into offering unlimited data plans. Deutsche Telekom (DT), the majority shareholder in TMUS, should be pleased. DT's financial report is due August 3rd.

Customer acquisition trends at T-Mobile US

Although T-Mobile boasts about adding more than a million mobile subscribers for 17 consecutive quarters, and more than its rivals, the absolute number of mobile subscribers in the U.S. is quite steady. It is a mature and fully saturated market. Customers jump from one carrier to the next when there is a major promotion, such as T-Mobile's 2-for-1 offer for Samsung's new Galaxy S8 during June. There are also people moving from pre-paid to post-paid plans, and vice versa. T-Mobile's total number of customers decreased slightly from Q1 and was 2.178 million more than a year earlier. Here are the figures:

6 months ended
June 30th
(in thousands, except churn)
Q2 2017

Q1 2017

Q2 2016

Total net customer additions
Branded postpaid net customer additions
Branded postpaid phone net customer additions
Branded prepaid net customer additions
Total customers, end of period (1)
Branded postpaid phone churn

•   Another factor contributing to the strong customer additions for T-Mobile is its physical retail push. The company opened 1,000 T-Mobile and 1,100 MetroPCS stores during the first half of the year. T-Mobile says it now aims to open 3,000 stores during 2017.

Financial trends for Q2

Overall revenue for T-Mobile reached $10.2 billion, up 10% year over year. Service revenue increased 8% in Q2 to a quarterly record-high of $7.4 billion, while many other telecom sectors, especially in mature markets, are flat or experiencing revenue growth in the 1-3% range. The T-Mobile figures look strong in that comparison. T-Mobile believes that its revenue growth performance will outpace its rivals.

Branded postpaid phone ARPU was $47.01 in Q2, essentially flat from Q2 2016. The company says that branded post-paid phone ARPU in full-year 2017 will be generally stable compared to full-year 2016, with some quarterly variations driven by the actual migrations to T-Mobile ONE rate plans. As the biggest promoter of unlimited voice/text/data plans, T-Mobile is largely responsible for this environment of flat ARPU and rising data traffic. With everything included on one bill, it is likely the fixed ARPU number will become a constant for the U.S. market.

Branded prepaid ARPU was a record-high $38.65 in Q2 2017, up 2.1% from Q2 2016, primarily due to the continued growth of MetroPCS customers. T-Mobile usually plays the role of the aggressor in pricing wars. In the pre-paid space, however, the company seems to have found its bottom line, saying it has made a deliberate decision not to respond to irrational offers in the marketplace from some of our competitors.

T-Mobile continues to generate higher net income and earnings per share. Net income increased 158% year-over-year in Q2 2017 to a strong $581 million, while net income as a percentage of service revenue was 8% in Q2 2017, up from 3% in Q2 2016. Meanwhile, diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 168% year-over-year in Q2 2017 to $0.67.

John Legere, T-Mobile’s outspoken president and CEO, commented:

-    "We just delivered a quarter with record service revenue, record-low churn, strong net income and record Adjusted EBITDA - all while leading the industry in post-paid phone growth. On top of that, our network just keeps getting better and faster while the Duopoly's networks seem to be choking after we forced them to go unlimited".

Network update

T-Mobile's 700 MHz deployment is now essentially complete, with live coverage in 575 market areas covering 271 million people. The next big project is the 600 MHz rollout.