Thursday, April 16, 2020

Verizon to acquire BlueJeans for video meetings

Verizon Business agreed to acquire BlueJeans Network, which offers an enterprise-grade video conferencing and event platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.

BlueJeans’ cloud-based video service currently serves a wide variety of business segments from small organizations to some of the world’s largest multinational brands, and has played a significant part in continuing those companies’ operations during the ongoing work-from-home surge. BlueJeans, which was founded in 2009 and which launched its commercial service in 2011, is privately-held and based in San Jose, California.

Verizon Business will integrate BlueJeans’ simple, smart and trusted meeting platform with its own unified communications as a service business. Verizon also plans to integrate BlueJeans into its 5G product roadmap, providing secure and real-time engagement solutions for high growth areas such as telemedicine, distance learning and field service work.

“As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise ready, secure, frictionless and that integrate with existing tools,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “Collaboration and communications have become top of the agenda for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors in recent months. We are excited to combine the power of BlueJeans’ video platform with Verizon Business’ connectivity networks, platforms and solutions to meet our customers’ needs.”

“The combination of BlueJeans’ world class enterprise video collaboration platform and trusted brand with Verizon Business’ next generation edge computing innovation will deliver highly differentiated and compelling solutions to our joint customers,” said Quentin Gallivan, CEO of BlueJeans Network. “We are very excited about joining the Verizon team and we truly believe the future of business communications starts today!”


Digitimes: Huawei shifts silicon sourcing away from TSMC to SMIC

Huawei's HiSilicon division has begun shifting some production away from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC), according to a report from DigiTimes. The shift reportedly concerns new orders based on SMIC's 14nm FinFET process, which recently began production.

By looking to domestic foundries, Huawei is believed to be bracing for possible U.S. government action to restrict Huawei's access to advanced fabrication at TSMC that leverages U.S.-origin technology.

SMIC, which is China's number one chip maker, has previously stated an intention to introduce 7nm technology as soon as possible. SMIC has a 300mm wafer fabrication facility (fab) , a 200mm fab and a majority-owned joint-venture 300mm fab for advanced nodes in Shanghai; a 300mm fab and a majority-owned 300mm fab for advanced nodes in Beijing; 200mm fabs in Tianjin and Shenzhen; and a majority-owned joint-venture 300mm bumping facility in Jiangyin. In 2019, SMIC's revenue from China-region customers grew to 59.5% of total revenue in 2019, compared to 57.0% of total revenue excluding technology licensing in 2018. Overall revenue was US$3,115.7 million in 2019.

https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20200414PD203.html
https://www.smics.com/

FCC Chairman favors Ligado's bid for low-power L-band terrestrial network

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated  a draft order that would approve with conditions Ligado’s application to deploy a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-Band that would primarily support 5G and Internet of Things services. 

“After many years of consideration, it is time for the FCC to make a decision and bring this proceeding to a close,” said Chairman Pai.  “We have compiled an extensive record, which confirms that it is in the public interest to grant Ligado’s application while imposing stringent conditions to prevent harmful interference.  The draft order that I have presented to my colleagues would make more efficient use of underused spectrum and promote the deployment of 5G and Internet of Things services.

In recent years, Ligado has amended its application to significantly reduce the power levels of its base stations from 32 dBW to 9.8 dBW (a reduction of 99.3%).  Ligado has also committed to providing a significant (23 megahertz) guard-band using its own licensed spectrum to further separate its terrestrial base station transmissions from neighboring operations in the Radionavigation-Satellite Service allocation.  As such, Ligado is now only seeking terrestrial use of the 1526-1536 MHz, 1627.5-1637.5 MHz, and 1646.5-1656.5 MHz bands.  The Order is conditioned to reflect these technical requirements.  It also requires Ligado to protect adjacent band incumbents by reporting its base station locations and technical operating parameters to potentially affected government and industry stakeholders prior to commencing operations, continuously monitoring the transmit power of its base station sites, and complying with procedures and actions for responding to credible reports of interference, including rapid shutdown of operations where warranted.

Doug Smith, President & Chief Executive Officer of Ligado, stated: "Since the very beginning of its long, comprehensive and collaborative analysis of the technical issues presented by Ligado's application, the FCC's dedicated staff has repeatedly shown its commitment to science-based, engineering-driven decision making, and Chairman's Pai's circulation of the Order regarding our license modification applications is the most recent example of this. The central importance of mid-band – especially our lower mid-band – to 5G is well-known. As Ericsson and Nokia technical studies on our proposed network deployment have shown, the superior propagation characteristics of our spectrum will improve mobile 5G coverage – both outdoor and indoor – and in doing so, accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. Ligado is committed to the twin goals of protecting GPS while delivering highly secure and ultra-reliable communications to accelerate next-generation technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things."


Ligado Networks is a privately-backed company based in Reston, Virginia, with investors including Centerbridge Partners, Fortress Investment Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co. From the big hitting industry execs on the leadership team it is clear the company is serious. Ivan Seidenberg, a former chairman of Verizon Communications, serves as chairman. Also on the board of directors is Timothy Donahue, former executive chairman of Sprint Nextel and former president and CEO of Nextel Communications, and Reed Hundt, the former Federal Communications Commission. Doug Smith serves as Ligado's president and CEO; he is known for his work in engineering and launching nationwide networks for GTE, Nextel, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire.

Picking up the pieces from LightSquared, SkyTerra and Mobile Satellite Ventures

Ligado Networks, previously known as LightSquared, emerged from bankruptcy reorganisation in 2016 with a new plan, or rather a new version of an old plan. The company controls 40 MHz of nationwide spectrum licenses in the L-Band (1500 to 1700 MHz), which it acquired in 2010 through its purchase of SkyTerra, another bold start-up that envisioned transforming the U.S. mobile scene with satellite communications.

Prior to 2008, SkyTerra was known as Mobile Satellite Ventures and had successfully operated the MSAT-1 and MSAT-2 satellites for over a decade. As 4G LTE technologies neared, the company set its sights and going big. The business plan evolved from pure mobile satellite to a hybrid design where the satellite connectivity would be used to augment terrestrial mobile communications. This would mean using the same spectrum bands from ground based base station as well as from the satellite. The company changed its name to SkyTerra and was acquired by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners acquired SkyTerra in March 2010. Harbinger invested about $2.9 billion in assets and soon raised more than $2.3 billion in debt and equity financing.

SkyTerra soon became known for its massive SkyTerra 1 satellite, which weighed a record 6,910 kg. The satellite was built at Space Systems/Loral's Palo Alto, California facility. It operates in two 10 MHz blocks of contiguous MSS spectrum in the 2 GHz band throughout the U.S. and Canada. Notably, the satellite uniquely features an 18-metre reflector and an S-band feed array with 500 spot beams. In November 2010, SkyTerra 1 was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

SkyTerra changed its name to LightSquared and in January 2011 was granted a conditional waiver by the FCC to test its network if it could be shown that the service would not interfere with GPS signals. This alarmed many GPS advocates, who argued that the L-band spectrum was simply too close to its own and that even a little interference could have serious consequences for the military, aviation, agriculture and other vertical sectors that rely on precise navigation.

In February 2012, the company received its greatest setback when the FCC withdrew its conditional approval for LightSquared network due to the potential interference concerns with GPS receivers. In June 2012, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against Philip Falcone and Harbinger Capital Partners; the case was settled in June 2013. For LightSquared, the game was over and it was soon forced into the bankruptcy courts. In addition to the technical, legal and financial challenges, LighSquared also faced allegations of political favouritism. Nevertheless, it still had the spectrum licenses and a fully functional Skyterra1 satellite parked in geostationary orbit.

Ligado Network is the new entity that in December 2015 emerged from this decade-long mess. Significantly, the company reached a settlement with the GPS industry on a technical plan to avoid interference issues by reducing the transmission power. It is not clear why a similar compromise could not have been reached in 2012. Ligado is now awaiting clearance from the FCC.

Ligado looks for its market

So back to square one, and Ligado Networks is now moving ahead with the plan to combine Skyterra1 satellite coverage with a ground-based network should FCC approval come. The goal is a ubiquitous national network whose footprint requires far fewer ground-based towers than would otherwise be required for universal coverage. The company says its mid-band spectrum is well suited for things that move, such as planes, trains and automobiles.

In its original iteration, LightSquared aimed to either compete with or partner with 4G LTE mobile services. At least one mobile handset model was developed that incorporated specialised silicon for tuning in the L-band frequency in addition to standard cellular bands. It seemed that a distribution partnership with AT&T was also in the works. For consumers, this would have meant being able to use the AT&T LTE network where available and then seamlessly roam onto the SkyTerra1 satellite service when that signal was stronger. Unfortunately, this handset was based on an old Nokia design and was not an iPhone or Android device. Even without the legal and financial issues, this business plan was not going to work.

Movandi raises $27M for mmWave routers/repeaters

Movandi, a start-up based in Irvine, California, raised $27 million in Series C funding for its 5G mmWave CPE.

5G mmWave solutions include 5G BeamXR active routers/repeaters and BeamX RF front-end for fixed wireless CPE, mobile devices, small cells, and Open Radio Access Networks (ORAN) radio units (RU). These products accelerate deployments across the complete 5G ecosystem from consumer and enterprise market segments, and applications from IoT, mobile, artificial Intelligence (AI), software defined networks and automotive. Not only enabling 5G infrastructure, but Movandi’s 5G mmWave system is to ensure that 5G mmWave technology can be broadly deployed in real-world scenarios by operators building the “interface of the internet.”

“We’re at an exciting inflection point in 5G mmWave operator deployments, we’re both scaling our active router platform and RF front-end deployments,” said Maryam Rofougaran, CEO and co-founder, Movandi. “We are working closely with 5G operators and system OEMs solving these 5G coverage challenges, by unlocking the true benefits of 5G that are only achieved with mmWave – that makes Movandi truly unique.”

The funding was led by WRVI Capital along with Cota Capital and DNX Ventures.

http://www.movandi.com


ZTE and Red Hat collaborate on VNFs

ZTE is collaborating with Red Hat on a new reference architecture for virtual network functions (VNFs). The architecture uses Red Hat OpenStack Platform and ZTE’s hardware.

Specifically, ZTE has completed the VNF certification of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and plans to begin the certification for Red Hat OpenStack Platform 16 this year.

ZTE also plans to provide the integrated environment for its VNF services with Red Hat OpenStack Platform in ZTE Cybersecurity Labs in Nanjing and Brussels, in order to showcase the new reference architecture. ZTE Cybersecurity Lab is a center for innovation, and a global resource for customers and partners who want  to build NFV/SDN applications and solutions. It offers fully transparent policy allowing customers, regulatory entities and other interested third parties to perform independent security assessments and audits in equipment. The independent source code reviews, document review, black box testing and penetration testing allow customers to verify the security of ZTE’s products, services and processes.

Red Hat and ZTE have worked with Vodafone Idea Limited, India’s leading telecom service provider, to deploy its VNF services on Red Hat OpenStack Platform to help deliver its Universal cloud platform.

“The next-generation of mobile networks begins with 5G services running on open source technologies and innovative hardware, and we are excited to be working with ZTE to help bring these solutions to service providers as fuel for network transformation,” said Joe Fernandes, vice president of Products, Cloud Platforms, Red Hat. “By deploying VNFs on top of Red Hat OpenStack Platform, ZTE is able to drive a more agile, user-friendly environment for operations teams, making it easier to deliver the future of mobile services. We look forward to continuing our work with ZTE in assisting service providers as they migrate to the open hybrid cloud.”

NETSCOUT updates financial guidance

NETSCOUT announced the following preliminary Fiscal Year 2020 guidance:

  • GAAP and Non-GAAP revenue in the range of $890 million to $892 million;
  • GAAP net income in the range of $1 million to $3 million, or $0.01 to $0.03 per share (diluted);
  • Non-GAAP net income in the range of $117 million to $119 million, or $1.54 to $1.56 per share (diluted), assuming an effective tax rate in the low 20% range;
  • Cash, cash equivalents and short-term marketable securities of approximately $385 million, which represents approximately six months of the Company’s normal working capital requirements; and
  • Debt of approximately $450 million outstanding on the Company’s $1 billion revolving credit facility, which matures in January 2023, and has no principal payments due until maturity.


Anil Singhal, NETSCOUT’s President and CEO, stated, “During this uncertain and unprecedented time, with communication and transparency being critical, we have chosen to provide an update on our business and financial performance. Our first priority is the health and safety of our people, partners, customers and the communities where we live and work. During this global COVID-19 pandemic, our purpose as 'Guardians of the Connected World' has never been more important. Our customers depend on NETSCOUT’s service assurance and security solutions to support and protect critical networks and infrastructure that connect people and support businesses around the globe. It is essential that these infrastructures continue to perform, even as they are stressed with unprecedented demand as we deal with global quarantines. For this reason, we continue to effectively operate our business and support our customers, with the majority of our employees working remotely.”

Stamus raises $1.5M for cybersecurity software

Stamus Networks, a start-up with offices in Indianapolis and Paris, France, announced $1.5 million in seed funding for its cybersecurity software.

The company said its approach clearly illuminates threats by correlating network traffic analysis and threat detection in real time.  The company was founded by the creators of the widely-deployed open source SELKS platform.

VisionTech Angels and Elevate Ventures, both Indianapolis-based investment groups, co-led the investment round. In addition, several independent angel investors participated.

“Stamus Networks addresses an important need in the marketplace for enterprise-scale cybersecurity and has created a unique enriched threat hunting solution,” said Vercie Lark, VIssionTech Angels investor and retired CIO. “Customers have told us the company’s Scirius platform allows them to replace several existing products and is very effective at proactively uncovering real threats. One of the most important factors we consider with any investment is the quality of the management team. Stamus Networks’ team brings a solid track record in the cybersecurity space with both commercial and technical successes.”

https://stamus-networks.com

See also