Thursday, May 14, 2020

Microsoft to acquire Metaswitch, extending its reach into telco cloud

Microsoft agreed to acquire Metaswitch Networks, a long-time leader in providing high-performance software to the communications industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Metaswitch has been a pioneer in cloud-native solutions for telecom operators. Its range of solutions include:
  • VoIP softswitches and gateways
  • VoLTE/VoWiFi
  • Voice and VoLTE interconnect
  • IMS core deployments
  • Session Border Control
  • Robocall blocking
  • Converged voice and data messaging
  • Group Communications and Collaboration
  • Cloud contact centers
Metaswitch (formerly Data Connection Ltd) was founded in 1981 and is based in London. The company is privately held.

Yousef Khalidi,Corporate Vice President, Azure Networking, states: "This announcement builds on our recent acquisition of Affirmed Networks, which closed on April 23, 2020. Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry. Microsoft intends to leverage the talent and technology of these two organizations, extending the Azure platform to both deploy and grow these capabilities at scale in a way that is secure, efficient and creates a sustainable ecosystem. As the industry moves to 5G, operators will have opportunities to advance the virtualization of their core networks and move forward on a path to an increasingly cloud-native future. Microsoft will continue to meet customers where they are, working together with the industry as operators and network equipment providers evolve their own operations."

https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/05/14/microsoft-announces-definitive-agreement-to-acquire-metaswitch-networks-expanding-approach-to-empower-operators-and-partner-with-network-equipment-providers-to-deliver-on-promise-of-5g/

Microsoft Azure Edge Zones previews with carriers

Microsoft has begun previewing Azure Edge Zones, which are 5G customer scenarios that can leverage its cloud capabilities.


Microsoft said Azure Edge Zones and Azure Private Edge Zones will enable:

  • Development of distributed applications across cloud, on-premises, and edge using the same Azure Portal, APIs, development, and security tools.
  • Local data processing for latency critical industrial IoT and media services workloads.
  • Acceleration of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and real-time analytics by optimizing, building, and innovating for robotics, automation, and mixed reality.
  • New frontiers for developers working with high-density graphics and real-time operations in industries such as gaming.
  • An evolving platform built with customers, carriers, and industry partners to allow seamless integration and operation of a wide selection of Virtual Network Functions, including 5G software and SD-WAN and firewalls from technology partners such as Affirmed, Mavenir, Nuage Networks from Nokia, Metaswitch, Palo Alto Networks, and VeloCloud By VMware.

Microsoft, which has already announced an Azure Edge Zone partnership with AT&T, is now expanding the program to the following carriers: Etisalat, NTT Communications, Proximus, Rogers, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Telstra, SK Telecom, and Vodafone Business.

By connecting Azure services directly to 5G networks inside the carrier's data centers, applications will benefit from significantly reduced latency,

“This is a uniquely challenging time across the globe as we rethink how to help organizations serve their customers and stakeholders,” said Anne Chow, chief executive officer, AT&T Business. “Fast and intelligent mobile networks will be increasingly central to all of our lives. Combining our network knowledge and experience with Microsoft’s cloud expertise will give businesses a critical head start.”

In addition, Microsoft announced the preview of Azure Private Edge Zones, a private 5G/LTE network combined with Azure Stack Edge on-premises delivering an ultra-low latency, secure, and high bandwidth solution for organizations to enable scenarios, like with Attabotics, accelerating e-commerce delivery times by using 3D robotic goods-to-person storage, retrieval, and real-time order fulfillment solutions. This solution leverages Azure Edge Zones and IoT technologies such as Azure IoT Central and Azure Sphere.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-partners-with-the-industry-to-unlock-new-5g-scenarios-with-azure-edge-zones/


Metaswitch demos packet core for private LTE on Azure

Metaswitch demonstrated its microservices-based, high-performance Packet Core as part of Microsoft Azure capabilities for private LTE during Microsoft Ignite.

Metaswitch said its Fusion Core is tightly integrated with Microsoft’s networking and edge connectivity solutions for a seamless configuration and provisioning experience.  It can be integrated with the Ruckus CBRS-based RAN solution, and the Attabotics 3D robotic goods-to-person storage, retrieval and real-time order fulfillment system. It offers a programmable User Plane Function (UPF) that delivers very high bandwidth capacity in edge deployments while conserving space and power requirements.

“Cloud native and IoT applications are shaking the entirety of large and high-growth communications and data processing industries,” said Shriraj Gaglani, EVP of Business and Corporate Development at Metaswitch. “With deep integration of enhanced Fusion Core features with the Azure cloud and edge platforms, the combined Private LTEaaS solution hits a sweet spot in the heart of this megatrend.”

“The Microsoft Azure-based private LTE solution builds on decades of Microsoft enterprise success stories,” said Ross Ortega, Partner PM, Azure Networking. “In collaborating with Metaswitch and Ruckus, we see opportunity to enable IoT applications and take advantage of the security, latency and bitrates provided by private LTE networks for our mutual customers.”

http://www.metaswitch.com

Microsoft to acquire Affirmed Networks for telco cloud vEPC

Microsoft agreed to acquire Affirmed Networks. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Affirmed Networks, which is based in Acton, Massachusetts, supplies virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) solutions for mobile operators. Affirmed’s virtualized evolved packet solution capabilities include CUPS, 5G NSA, network slicing, integrated virtual probe, virtualized DPI, GiLAN, analytics and security services, virtualized Wi-Fi, and service automation platform. The company claims 76 deployments, including announced projects with AT&T, Etisalat, and Vodafone.

Microsoft said the acquisition will boost its efforts "to work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators. With Affirmed Networks, we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the cloud."

https://www.affirmednetworks.com/

2Africa subsea cable boasts design capacity up to 180 Tbps

2Africa, a new subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region, promises to deliver  more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

Consortium partners include China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to build the fully-funded cable. The project will leverage SDM1 (space division multiplexing) technology from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs instead of the eight fiber pairs supported by older technologies. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50% compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.

The 2Africa subsea cable will span 37,000km long, interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4. Each of the cable landing sites will offer carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.

In addition, the 2Africa parties and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade. This includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fiber on two new, diverse terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new subsea link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez. 



"The launch of 2Africa enables us to offer our customers seamless connection between Africa and Europe, together with our SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE-1 subsea cable resources to further extend to Asia, which is an important milestone of our global development strategy," said Jessica Gu, Director & Chief Technology Officer of China Mobile International. "The utmost capacity and faster transmission allows us to satisfy the needs of African nations today and in the future, reflecting our firm commitment to building a global digital life."

"We're excited to be collaborating with our 2Africa partners on the most comprehensive subsea cable that will serve the continent," said Najam Ahmad, Vice President, Network Infrastructure at Facebook. "2Africa is a major element of our ongoing investment in Africa to bring more people online to a faster internet.  We've seen first-hand the positive impact that increased connectivity has on communities, from education to healthcare. We know that economies flourish when there is widely accessible internet for businesses. 2Africa is a key pillar supporting this tremendous internet expansion as part of Africa's surging digital economy."

According to Frédéric Schepens, CEO of MTN Group's wholesale operation, MTN GlobalConnect, "MTN GlobalConnect is delighted to participate in this bold 2Africa subsea cable project. This initiative complements MTN GlobalConnect's terrestrial fibre strategy to connect African countries to each other and to the rest of the world. We are proud to be playing a key role in providing the benefits of a modern connected life – a core MTN belief."

Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, said, "As one of the world's leading multi-service telecommunications operators and present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it was natural for Orange to be part of the 2Africa project. This major investment will complete our existing submarine and pan-African terrestrial infrastructures to provide access to international connectivity in a redundant fashion throughout the west coast of Africa. It will enable Orange to securely meet the demand for increased bandwidth necessary for the continued digital development of regions throughout the 2Africa system."

Mohammed A. Alabbadi, Wholesale VP in stc commented, "stc is delighted to be a Partner in 2Africa. The 2Africa cable will be integrated into stc's MENA Gateway (MG1) datacentre in Jeddah, enabling customers to access our extensive international content and extend their regional connectivity through stc terrestrial geo-mesh network that extends to all neighboring countries. This will undoubtedly play a significant role in enhancing stc's international network capabilities, whilst also positioning stc as a leading regional digital player in the MENA region. The partnership demonstrates stc's commitment, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, to deliver meaningful digital transformation and build a digital society for all."

Adel Hamed, Telecom Egypt's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "Telecom Egypt's contribution to 2Africa marks an important milestone in our endeavor to contribute to digital transformation in Africa. Egypt's relationship with African states has and will always be one of Egypt's top priorities, it extends here to align with Egypt's strategy to contribute in the current development in Africa. We are honored to be part of such a revolutionary project alongside renowned global and African partners. For years, we have accomplished tangible steps in revamping our international infrastructure and increasing our assets' geodiversity in order to keep pace with the rising global demand for large bandwidth and global reach. We trust that 2Africa will be a rich addition to our diversified investments in the subsea cable industry." 

http://www.2AfricaCable.com

Alcatel Submarine Networks develops 3D WSS ROADM

Alcatel Submarine Networks introduced a new 3 Degree WSS ROADM unit designed to reduce the number of fiber pairs in the branch, leading to significant cost savings in subsea networks. The new ASN 3D WSS ROADM provides full WSS device flexibility maintaining East+West connectivity between trunk and branch. This simplifies the topology of complex networks and facilitates the implementation of branches on branches.

Key features:

  • Full flexibility in traffic routing thanks to WSS component
  • Submarine grade reliability thanks to WSS redundancy
  • Fully configurable through active supervisory commands
  • Embedded management of noise loading and traffic confidentiality
  • Fully managed by ASN SN10 Network Management


Alain Biston, President and CEO of Alcatel Submarine Networks said: “The introduction of innovation 3D design as part of ASN WSS ROADM product family addresses the market demand for more connectivity and flexibility at a reasonable cost, keeping the same level of quality and reliability. It effectively complements the SDM1 by ASN product portfolio to support all traffic demands and decrease cost per bit. ASN is strongly supporting its customer initiatives to provide a reliable internet infrastructure to all communities around the world and will continue to innovate to support this common goal.”

ASN confirmed that its new 3D WSS ROADM has already been selected for a major submarine cable system project.

https://web.asn.com/en/press-room/alcatel-submarine-networks-to-launch-a-new-wss-roadm-unit.html


Openreach picks ADTRAN's OLTs and Cloud Platform

Openreach, the wholesale infrastructure arm of BT, has selected ADTRAN’s SDX Series of OLTs and Mosaic Cloud Platform to help it achieve its ambition of making gigabit and multi-gigabit services available to 20 million homes across the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s with its Full Fibre network.

ADTRAN said its SDX platform will enable Openreach to economically scale its GPON and XGS-PON network with a level of flexibility that could not be realized with traditional access solutions.

Peter Bell, Network Technologies Director, Openreach said: “We’re already making our new ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband network available to around 32,000 UK homes and businesses every week – and we’re on track to reach our target of reaching four and a half million premises with ‘Full Fibre’ by the end of March 2021.”

“But we don’t want to stop there. Our new network will support the UK’s economy for decades to come and help it bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’ll be accelerating our Full Fibre build throughout the year. ADTRAN’s solutions will play a key role in helping us achieve that as we’re continually searching for innovative technologies that can help us build the network better, broader and faster for our customers.”

More than 600 retail carriers across the United Kingdom rely on Openreach to deliver the wholesale capacity to support a broad portfolio of services to enterprise, small-to-medium businesses and residential customers.

“ADTRAN is thrilled to be part of Openreach’s plan to upgrade the UK’s broadband infrastructure and the selection is a proof point that ADTRAN’s open, disaggregated approach to service creation and delivery is a blueprint for the telecommunications industry,” said Dan Whalen, ADTRAN’s Chief Product Officer. “Given the breadth of Openreach’s Full Fibre network, having the ability to deliver GPON and XGS-PON services from the same OLT port streamlines service delivery and reduces the complexity of network design. We make it possible for any service provider, based anywhere in the country, to have the service options they require to fit their customer’s needs.”

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier activates 800G with Ciena

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier has activated the first European 800G network connecting its data centers in Vienna, Austria.

The 800Gbps transmission has been validated for stability and error rates in a live environment.

The deployment will allow Deutsche Telekom to transport eight 100G of data traffic in less than 100Ghz of spectrum and is optimized for high-capacity 100GE and 400GE customer interface connectivity. Ciena said its solution is the first to transport 2x400GE across a single 800G wavelength.

In the next phase, Deutsche Telekom intends to implement Ciena’s WL5e with its 6500 and Waveserver 5 platforms, managed by Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP)  domain controller, in Public Telehouse Exchange points.

“We pride ourselves on always being a step ahead and this move will push us over the threshold. It will help us achieve a significant industry milestone by delivering the first 800G network in Europe. With it, we will increase network capacity and efficiency, and create a more adaptive network that can meet our customer’s needs now and into the future,” said Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier.

https://www.ciena.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/deutsche-telekom-global-carrier--first-800g-network-in-europe.html

NVIDIA unveils 8th-gen Ampere GPU architecture

NVIDIA unveiled its Ampere architecture, described as the "greatest generational performance leap of NVIDIA’s eight generations of GPUs."

In a keynote recorded at hi home kitchen, NVIDIA's CEO Jensen Huang said the Ampere architecture will boost performance by up to 20x over its predecessors. More specifically, 6x higher performance than NVIDIA’s previous generation Volta architecture for training and 7x higher performance for inference.

Key features of A100:

  • More than 54 billion transistors, making it the world’s largest 7-nanometer processor.
  • Third-generation Tensor Cores with TF32, a new math format that accelerates single-precision AI training out of the box. NVIDIA’s widely used Tensor Cores are now more flexible, faster and easier to use, Huang explained.
  • Structural sparsity acceleration, a new efficiency technique harnessing the inherently sparse nature of AI math for higher performance.
  • Multi-instance GPU, or MIG, allowing a single A100 to be partitioned into as many as seven independent GPUs, each with its own resources.
  • Third-generation NVLink technology, doubling high-speed connectivity between GPUs, allowing A100 servers to act as one giant GPU.

The NVIDIA DGX A100 will power the third generation of the NVIDIA DGX AI server, boasting 5-petaflops of performance.

Deutsche Telekom: Limited impact from pandemic

Deutsche Telekom's revenue increased 2.3 percent year-on-year to 19.9 billion euros in the first quarter. Adjusted EBITDA AL rose by 10.2 percent, reaching 6.5 billion euros.

“Deutsche Telekom is an anchor of stability in a global crisis,” said CEO Tim Höttges. “Our networks are working reliably as digital lifelines for society.”

The company said its expects the pandemic to have limited impact on revenue, due to, for example, the closure of shops, lower roaming revenues, and companies postponing or canceling IT projects. On the other hand, voice telephony revenue is increasing, for instance, and the mobile churn rate is falling.

"Taking the offsetting effects and measures into account, the impact on adjusted EBITDA AL is likely to be comparatively low. As such, taking into account all foreseeable consequences of the pandemic, the Group confirms its guidance for the current financial year."

Free cash flow AL decreased by around 0.7 billion euros due to the reduction in factoring. This decision accounted for the decline to 1.3 billion euros. Adjusted net profit increased by 8.5 percent to 1.3 billion euros, unadjusted it increased by 1.8 percent to 916 million euros.

Some highlights

Germany – strong performance in fixed-line and mobile communications

  • 83,000 new broadband customers - the best result in two years in Germany. 
  • The number of TV customers increased significantly, with 60,000 new users of MagentaTV. 
  • The number of fiber-optic lines (VDSL/vectoring, FTTH) grew by 389,000 between January and March, bringing the total to around 14.8 million at the end of the first quarter, 1.9 million more than a year earlier.
  • Mobile service revenues increased 1.7 percent YoY. 
  • Mobile branded contract customer additions amounted to 141,000 in the first quarter.
  • The Germany segment also posted positive trends in its financials. 

United States – continued growth in financial figures

  • T-Mobile US completed its business combination with Sprint on April 1, 2020.
  • Adjusted EBITDA AL grew by 14.5 percent to 3.5 billion U.S. dollars, while revenue grew 0.7 percent against the prior-year level to 11.2 billion U.S. dollars, with mobile service revenues increasing by 5.5 percent. 
  • The number of branded postpaid customers increased by 777,000 in the first three months to 47.8 million. T-Mobile US now has a total of 68.5 million branded customers. In line with other companies in the industry in the United States, the company no longer reports any wholesale customers as of this quarter.

Europe – still on course

  • Driven primarily by growing fixed-network and mobile service revenues, revenue in the Europe operating segment grew by 2.0 percent in organic terms year-on-year in the first quarter to 2.9 billion euros. 
  • Adjusted EBITDA AL rose by 3.4 percent in organic terms to 1.0 billion euros. 
  • Between January and March, the European national companies acquired 110,000 new mobile contract customers, 65,000 new broadband customers, and 238,000 new users of product packages combining fixed network and mobile communications. More than half of all broadband households now use these convergent offers.

Systems Solutions – earnings up thanks to growth areas

  • T-Systems managed to offset the expected fall in revenue from traditional IT business with gains in growth areas. 
  • The areas of public cloud and security performed particularly well. 
  • At 1.6 billion euros, revenue across the whole segment remained at the prior-year level.
  • The positive trend in the growth areas and the ongoing transformation strengthened profitability. 
  • Adjusted EBITDA AL increased by 8.7 percent compared with the first quarter of 2019 to 100 million euros. Order entry declined by 13.4 percent against the strong prior-year quarter to 1.4 billion euros.


Türk Telekom deploys ADVA's Oscilloquartz network timing

Türk Telekom has deployed ADVA's Oscilloquartz network timing technology, bringing accurate, robust frequency synchronization to its national transport network.

The compact and flexible OSA 3230B Series cesium clocks enable high levels of frequency stability across Türk Telekom’s timing and sync network and their extended holdover performance protects against GNSS outages. The solution was implemented by ADVA and Türk Telekom’s partner Netaş, which will also provide continuous maintenance and support.

“The ADVA OSA 3230B Series maximizes the synchronization performance and continuity of our transmission network. It empowers us to optimize availability and deliver even more value to our customers,” said Yusuf Kıraç, CTO, Türk Telekom. “Accurate frequency and stable timing have become essential. Our residential and mobile customers will be demanding more access to streaming and gaming applications and enterprises across Turkey and will be looking to leverage long-distance collaborative tools. That will require precise and stable frequency and timing information at all times. With the OSA 3230B Series delivering vital immunity against loss of satellite signal, we can meet strict accuracy and stability needs.”

“With intentional GNSS impairments such as spoofing and jamming on the increase, as well as the threat of unintentional disturbances, it’s vital for decision-makers of mission-critical infrastructure to mitigate against GNSS vulnerabilities. Our OSA 3230B Series provides Türk Telekom with a primary reference clock that enables it to operate a highly accurate and stable time and frequency sync network resistant to GNSS outages,” commented Jörg Urban, senior director, business development, Oscilloquartz, ADVA. “Together with our business partner Netaş, we’ve worked closely to achieve true synergy with Türk Telekom. Our teams share a drive to continuously meet and exceed customer expectations. With the support of our engineers and our comprehensive technology portfolio, we’ll be able to meet their frequency and timing requirements for many years to come.”