Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Nokia accelerates push into Open RAN

Nokia is ramping up the adoption of Open RAN (O-RAN) interfaces in its AirScale portfolio, saying it aims to enable an open ecosystem of innovation and a robust telecom supply chain, while ensuring world-class network performance and security.

Nokia's new O-RAN capabilities, which include open interfaces, build on its existing AirScale software. The company says its O-RAN software delivers the same performance, functionalities and security standards of its current radio products.

An initial set of O-RAN functionalities will become available this year, while the full suite of O-RAN-defined interfaces is expected to be available in 2021.

Nokia notes that it is the only global RAN provider to commit to O-RAN.

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "Nokia is committed to leading the open mobile future by investing in Open RAN and Cloud RAN solutions with the aim of enabling a robust telecom ecosystem with strong network performance and security. Nokia’s Cloud RAN solution leads the market and is continuing to evolve to a cloud-native architecture. We have ​the scale and capabilities to address the increased customer demand for this technology, underpinned by the world-class network performance and security that only Nokia can deliver."



Nokia moves ahead with 5G Cloud RAN commercialization

Nokia confirmed plans to commercially launch a version of its 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution that is based on vRAN2.0. The open version  will be commercially available this year with general availability expected in 2021.

Open RAN (O-RAN) splits the base station into Radio Unit (RU), Distributed Unit (DU), Radio Access Point (RAP, a combination of RU and DU), Centralized Unit (CU), and O-RAN compliant interfaces between these elements. Nokia's 5G AirScale Cloud RAN also includes the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) concept to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to optimize the radio and system performance.

Nokia’s first-generation 5G AirScale Cloud RAN based on vRAN1.0, which has a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), has been in commercial operation on a mmWave network in the U.S. since early 2019.

Nokia’s new vRAN2.0 solution introduces a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU) as well as a Fronthaul Gateway. The result is a fully cloudified and disaggregated 5G base station that provides scalability, low latency, high performance and capacity, as well as several network architecture options, to meet ever-increasing market demands. The solution helps operators to generate revenue from new 5G services as well as to enable flexible end-to-end network slicing, meet IoT requirements and bring the overall benefits of cloud computing to Radio Access Networks (RAN).

The first Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution with a vCU in vRAN1.0 configuration was taken into large-scale commercial use in the U.S. in 2019. Since then, Nokia has evolved the solution to vRAN2.0 configuration with a Distributed Unit (DU) running on General Purpose Processor (x86)-based computing with hardware acceleration in Layer 1 (L1).

https://www.nokia.com/about-us/news/releases/2020/06/23/nokia-commercializes-next-generation-5g-cloud-ran/

O-RAN delivers its Bronze release with 23 new or updated specs

The O-RAN Alliance has launched its second open source software release featuring 23 new or updated specifications.

The O-RAN "Bronze" release also includes an initial set of O-RAN use cases and cloud native deployment support options.


Highlights of O-RAN Bronze:

  • an initial release of an A1 policy manager and an A1 controller that implements the Non-Real-Time Radio Intelligent Controller (Non-RT RIC) architecture.
  • the Near-Real-Time RIC updated to current O-RAN E2 and A1 specifications with 5 sample xAPPs.
  • initial O-CU and O-DU Low/High code contributions that support a FAPI framework and integration between the O-DU and RIC with E2 functionality and subscription support.
  • a Traffic Steering and Quality Prediction use case leveraging an E2 interface data ingest pipeline to demonstrate the functionality of RAN traffic steering with an E2 interface KPI monitoring capability.
  • OAM use cases that exercise Health Check call flows including the Near-RT RIC and its O1 and A1 interfaces.

“The new use cases, the Bronze software release, and the new O-RAN ALLIANCE members are indications that this global forum is working exactly as intended, reaching across borders to drive innovation and build consensus,” said Andre Fuetsch, Chairman of the O-RAN ALLIANCE and Chief Technology Officer – Network Services, at AT&T. “As this coalition evolves, we look forward to seeing how it continues to broaden access to 5G and other new access technologies.”

“Over the past 6 months, O-RAN working groups and the O-RAN Software Community have extensively engaged to achieve tight alignment between the specifications and the Bronze release open source code,” said Chih-Lin I, the Co-Chair of O-RAN Technical Steering Committee. “Specific progress related to both the Non-RT-RIC and the Near-RT-RIC frameworks and associated key interfaces deserves special mention for its importance in enabling AI/ML capabilities in RAN. The O-RAN virtual showcase further demonstrates the growing momentum towards global adoption and deployment of O-RAN solutions.”

“Ericsson is actively engaged in shaping the future of the O-RAN initiative by enabling Non-RT RIC (Non-Real-Time RAN Intelligent Controller) and A1 interface to support fine-grained intelligent steering of the RAN,” said Per Beming, Head of Standards and Industry Initiative in Ericsson. “During OSC Bronze release, Ericsson continued as the key contributor to Non-RT RIC project by improving support for intent based intelligent RAN optimization using A1 interface. This specific capability allows operators to leverage both RAN and non-RAN data to enrich end user experience.”

https://www.o-ran.org/software

Telstra to expand network infrastructure in the U.S.

Telstra plans to expand its network infrastructure in the U.S. by increasing bandwidth capacity on its trans-Pacific subsea cables; opening two new points-of-presence (PoPs) in the region; and upgrading many of its in-country circuits to enhance network resiliency and diversity.

Telstra said it has seen increased demand from its U.S.-based customers and partners needing to carry data, content, and IP to and from Asia, especially as the world continues, in large part, to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Telstra reports up to a 35 percent increase in traffic overall on its international network as well as a shift from 10G to 100G services on its trans-Pacific subsea cables.

Telstra's plans include:

  • Increasing bandwidth by more than 1.5 terabytes in the next six months on multiple subsea cables from U.S. West Coast to Asia-Pacific 
  • Opening PoPs in Hillsboro, Oregon and Los Angeles, California to support increasing bandwidth requirements from organizations in the surrounding areas. This brings Telstra’s total number of PoPs in the U.S. to 21. The company also recently launched PoPs in Atlanta, Seattle, Denver and Dallas and a new sales office in Chicago.
  • Upgrading in-country circuits, from bundles of 10G transit services to 100G to ensure U.S. network resiliency and diversity between all of Telstra’s PoPs in the country.

“We’ve experienced incredible demand for connectivity into Asia-Pacific over the last year, as more U.S. businesses look for growth in Asia, one of the world’s largest growth markets,” said Nick Collins, President of Telstra, Americas. “To meet this need, ensure we deliver the best experience to our customers, and remain one of the most-trusted partners to deliver content, data and IP to and from the U.S. and Asia, we are committed to continually investing in our U.S. network infrastructure, at a time when connectivity and collaboration between the two high-growth regions continues to be important.”

Vantage Data Centers gains strategic backing from Colony Capital

Vantage Data Centers announced a strategic partnership valued at $3.5 billion to accelerate the expansion of its wholesale data centers throughout North America and Europe.

Specifically, the Colony-led investor group will invest $1.2 billion in Vantage’s diversified portfolio, including 12 stabilized North American data centers, which span more than 1.4 million gross square feet and 150MW of IT capacity across key strategic markets in Santa Clara, California; Quincy, Washington; Montreal and Quebec City, Canada.

Vantage’s management team, led by Sureel Choksi, president and CEO, will continue to manage and operate these assets as part of its global data center footprint. Vantage will maintain the same level of superior service to its valued customers in each market, while simultaneously developing and operating additional data centers throughout North America and Europe. The capital provided by this transaction will support Vantage’s strategy to expand and enhance its global footprint.

“This innovative transaction establishes the most valuable portfolio of hyperscale data center assets in North America, backed and managed by the best-in-class management team at Vantage,” said Marc Ganzi, CEO of Colony Capital. “As Colony continues to build momentum around our strategic transformation to digital infrastructure, this investment demonstrates our commitment to acquire high-quality digital assets on our balance sheet. We expect this will benefit our shareholders by providing consistent, predictable earnings from long-term leases with the highest-caliber, investment-grade customers.”

“This strategic partnership with the Colony Capital-led investor group provides Vantage with a partner that deeply understands digital infrastructure,” said Choksi. “Vantage and its investor group are now even more well positioned to capitalize on a number of attractive market opportunities and deploy the necessary capital to drive innovation, deliver state-of-the-art facilities for our customers, and accelerate our expansion plans in existing and new markets globally.”

http://www.vantage-dc.com

Vantage Data Centers to acquire data center campus in Wales

Vantage Data Centers  signed a definitive agreement with InfraVia Capital Partners, along with the two founders of the business, to acquire Next Generation Data (NGD), which operates a data center campus located on 50-acres in the Cardiff Capital Region in South Wales, UK.

The existing NGD data center campus is a Tier III 180MW facility, including an existing 72MW capacity and 108MW of expansion capacity. It uses 100% renewable energy and is rich in fiber delivered by many Tier 1 service providers. Latency between Wales and London is less than 1.5 milliseconds. In addition, NGD Cloud Gateway provides multiple access services, including Express Route and Connect, and NGD recently became a new hosting facility for LINX Wales. The highly secure site meets the U.K. government’s highest standards, and is one of many reasons that multiple blue-chip, high growth companies currently house their IT infrastructure within NGD’s 750,000 square foot facility.

Upon closing, Wales will mark Vantage’s sixth strategic market in Europe following its entrance into five markets (Berlin, Frankfurt, Milan, Warsaw and Zurich) announced in February 2020, including the acquisition of Etix Everywhere.

“As the needs of our hyperscale, cloud and large enterprise customers continue to grow, Wales represents a highly attractive U.K. market offering both lower cost and greater scalability versus London,” said Sureel Choksi, president and CEO, Vantage Data Centers. “NGD customers benefit from very low network latency to London, low power costs and excellent fiber connectivity, coupled with the company’s massively scalable campus outside London’s highly constrained M25 area. We are thrilled to welcome Justin Jenkins and the entire NGD team to Vantage Europe.”

“The NGD team is excited to join Vantage Europe given our shared commitment to operational excellence, high quality facilities and sustainable building practices,” said Jenkins. “Vantage’s global footprint and broad customer relationships, combined with NGD’s growing hyperscale and enterprise U.K. customer base, position us ideally to accelerate the investment and growth of our U.K. business.”

The transaction will be funded with equity commitments from Digital Colony Partners and other investors in Vantage, as well as acquisition debt financing.

Vantage Data Centers launch $2 billion European expansion strategy

Vantage Data Centers has launched a $2 billion expansion into Europe with the aim of establishing itself in the hyperscale market.

As part of its expansion strategy, Vantage has acquired Etix Everywhere, which has 50MW of built data center capacity across its footprint and is building a 55MW hyperscale data center campus in Frankfurt, Germany. Financial terms were not disclosed. In conjunction with the Etix acquisition, Antoine Boniface, former CEO of Etix, has joined the Vantage executive team to serve as president, Europe.

In addition, Vantage Europe has secured land and is planning to develop hyperscale data center campuses in Berlin, Milan, Warsaw and Zurich. The facilities, which are currently underway, are in the following European markets:

  • Berlin: 64MW campus on 13 acres (5 hectares)
  • Milan: 32MW campus on 17 acres (7 hectares)
  • Warsaw: 64MW campus 12 acres (5 hectares)
  • Zurich: 40MW campus on 7 acres (3 hectares)

Vantage said intends to invest USD $2 billion in its planned European expansion, including more than USD $800 million in new equity capital provided by Vantage’s current investors and a new commitment from Digital Colony Partners.

“As data center demand from our customer base continues to rapidly increase worldwide, Vantage is embarking upon its largest expansion ever into Europe through the development of five strategic markets,” said Sureel Choksi, president and CEO of Vantage. “The acquisition of Etix accelerates our expansion to Frankfurt, Europe’s highest growth hyperscale market. We are very excited to welcome Antoine and his team to lead our European business.”

Inclusive of this European expansion, Vantage will operate hyperscale data center campuses in 11 markets globally.

Vantage Data Centers added 41MW capacity in 2019

In 2019, Vantage Data Centers added 41MW of capacity into operation across North America.

Vantage opened new facilities in Northern Virginia, Santa Clara, California, and Quebec City, in addition to its expansion in Montreal. The company also purchased land outside of Phoenix in Goodyear, Arizona, where it is developing the company’s largest campus to date.

“Our growth in 2019 was extraordinary, fulfilling the goals we set early in the year,” said Sureel Choksi, president and CEO, Vantage Data Centers. “Not only did we expand outside of the U.S. for the first time, we also opened three new facilities and entered four new markets. This tremendous growth has been fueled by demand from hyperscalers, cloud providers and large enterprises and powered by an innovative funding strategy.”

In addition, over the course of 2019, Vantage raised $1.6 billion in capital to support its expansion across North America. In addition, Vantage opened a second headquarters in Denver to facilitate the growth of its employee base.

Equinix to offer direct access to Alibaba Cloud in 17 markets

Equinix will extend access to Alibaba Cloud from 17 metros globally, including Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, as well as US metros such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver. This expansion, along with its API integration with Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™), will help enterprises from these global markets easily and privately connect to Alibaba Cloud on Platform Equinix.

Alibaba Cloud provides a comprehensive suite of cloud computing services to businesses worldwide, which include Elastic Compute Service, Storage, Relational Databases, Big Data Solution and CDN. Its rich and diverse ecosystem ranges from e-commerce and payments, to logistics and supply chain management solutions.

Alibaba Group's market share in the global IaaS market climbed to 9.1% in 2019, up from 7.7% in 2018, according to Gartner.

Shunmin Zhu, Researcher of Network Products, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, states: "Equinix’s global platform and ever-expanding footprint has made it easy for Alibaba Cloud to grow into new markets and offer our customers access to a rich ecosystem of cloud service providers via Platform Equinix and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric. This valuable and growing collaboration enables us to deliver further flexibility and security, while also bringing our services closer to businesses, without having to compromise on speed or performance.”

Loon enters commercial service in Kenya

Alphabet's Loon division began providing broadband service via balloon to subscribers of Telkom Kenya.

The service footprint spans nearly 50,000 square kilometers across western and central parts of Kenya, including the areas of Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho, and Narok.

Loon is using a fleet of around 35 or more separate balloons circulating in the stratosphere. The company is aiming to add balloons over eastern Africa in the coming weeks.

Loon reports uplink speed of 4.74Mpbs, downlink speed of 18.9Mbps, and latency of 19 milliseconds (ms) during field testing in late-June. This was sufficient for applications such as voice calls, video calls, YouTube, WhatsApp, email, texting, web browsing, etc.

Google's Loon balloons working with AT&T

Google's Loon balloon initiative, which has undergone limited field deployments in Puerto Rico and Peru, is working with AT&T and its global partners to extend its reach to new markets.

Specifically, Loon is looking to leverage the AT&T network to expands the number of operators around the world that Loon can work with without having to complete time-intensive network integration for each one. The collaboration is expected to save valuable time if the event that Loon broadband coverage is needed for disaster response.

Loon also disclosed that it has recently secured approvals to fly over additional countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Malawi, and Lesotho. Loon now has approvals to fly ove a total of 50 countries.

https://medium.com/loon-for-all/working-with-at-t-to-offer-a-global-connectivity-solution-in-times-of-disaster-450d8cb9a448

Google Loon to fly over the Peruvian Amazon

Peru is likely to be the first country in Latin America in which the "Loon" Internet-via-balloon service will operate

Specifically, Loon and Internet para Todos Per├║ (IpT) have reached an agreement to use high-altitude balloons to expand mobile internet access to parts of the Peruvian Amazonia. The companies aim to provide service to Telef├│nica customers in Peru in 2020.

Loon, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, uses a network of high altitude balloons operating 20 km above sea level, well above air traffic, wildlife and weather events. Loon provides a full network as a service. The balloons act as floating cell towers, transmitting a provider’s service directly to a subscriber’s 4G/LTE device below.

Broadband Forum: 5G Transport Network Architecture and Requirements

The Broadband Forum published a new white paper that outlines the transport architecture it is developing and sets out the motivation and benefits for operators to upgrade their transport networks and ensure their legacy backhaul infrastructure meets a new suite of demands to ensure superior RAN performance and maintain low total cost of ownership for 5G.

“5G is driving mobile operators to take a holistic approach to transport network planning,” said Robin Mersh, CEO of Broadband Forum. “The technology also brings a significant increase in capacity, requires an estimated doubling of radio sites deployed, and the need for a new architecture with new RAN and Core interfaces. These new architectures and new interfaces each have specific requirements that must be met not only by the mobile equipment, but by the underlying transport network.”

The white paper – titled “5G Network Architecture Overview” – explains that the new complexities of 5G networks require intelligent, automated coordination between RAN, mobile core networks and the underlying transport network to meet the demands of 5G. Legacy transport systems need to be upgraded and backhaul systems must meet a suite of new demands to ensure superior RAN performance and maintain low total cost of ownership. 5G backhaul systems need to address increased capacity and greater interface density requirements. For example, 5G backhaul baseband interfaces will need 10 Gbps capacity and need to scale efficiently up to 100Gbps.

The white paper has been released in advance of Broadband Forum’s new 5G Transport Architecture and Requirements specification which introduces the use of new transport and routing technologies and applies these to the 5G split RAN architecture. The standard will leverage IPv6, segment routing, MPLS, Ethernet VPN (EVPN) and other technologies to enable effective and scalable transport networks to support operator 5G deployments, in conjunction with LTE and 4G operations.

“While the initial focus in 5G is on potential use cases and the radio technology itself, 5G cannot exist without a transport network to support it,” said Joel Halpern, Editor of the 5G Network Architecture white paper, of Ericsson. “Technology and application performance requirements will lead to a future transport network that looks very different. The use of 5G network architecture requirements, such as those being created within Broadband Forum, will ensure operators can enhance and migrate their existing networks to support the new capabilities 5G needs in order to deliver on the promise it has while protecting their existing investment.”

Broadband Forum’s other 5G initiatives are also continuing. These include a joint Fixed Mobile Convergence project with 3GPP and a specification for a 5G Access Gateway Function (AGF) that adapts fixed access onto the 5G core. Specifications for measuring, analyzing and scaling the capacity and Quality of Service of the transport networks noted above are also underway in the Forum’s Access and Transport Architecture (ATA) Work Area. These overcome some of the shortcomings of today’s capacity-centric and node-centric network equipment and analysis.

https://www.broadband-forum.org/projects/5g

Synaptics to acquire Broadcom’s IoT assets for $250 million

Synaptics agreed to acquire certain assets and manufacturing rights associated with the wireless IoT business of Broadcom for approximately $250 million in cash.

Specifically, Synaptics will acquire certain rights to Broadcom’s existing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS/GNSS products and business in the IoT market as well as future roadmap devices designed in advanced process nodes.

Synaptics expects the transaction to add approximately $65 million in current annualized sales and provide significant revenue growth potential. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Synaptics’ non-GAAP gross margins and non-GAAP earnings post-close.

“Expanding our offering in the high growth IoT market has been one of the major focus areas for Synaptics and the addition of best-in-class wireless connectivity technology to our portfolio significantly enhances our overall position,” said Michael Hurlston, president and CEO, Synaptics. “This acquisition complements Synaptics’ ability to sell into a broad range of devices such as IP cameras, smart displays, speakers, home automation, and gaming consoles – all of which require cutting-edge technologies including Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 and GPS L5.”

MaxLinear raises Q2 financial guidance

MaxLinear increased its preliminary revenue estimate range for the second quarter 2020 citing an uptick in demand for its broadband products.

MaxLinear’s revenue guidance provided on April 29, 2020 was in the range of $60 million to $64 million. The company now expects preliminary total revenue of approximately $65 million to $65.5 million.

“During the second quarter, our business has shown solid improvements with stronger-than-expected revenues driven by a broadband demand uptick as well as analog product sales recovery. While we have seen some negative COVID-19 related impacts, the work-from-home environment has strongly benefited our connected home business owing to noticeable inflection in bandwidth demand at home. The infrastructure business also saw meaningful quarterly improvements over previous results, supporting our positive outlook on the new product ramps that are just beginning,” commented Kishore Seendripu, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO.

“Additionally, we expect MaxLinear’s acquisition of Intel’s Home Gateway Platform Division to close during the current quarter ending September 30, 2020,” continued Dr. Seendripu.

MaxLinear posts Q1 sales of $62 million, down 27% YoY

MaxLinear reported Q1 2020 revenue of $62.0 million, down 11% sequentially, and down 27% year-on-year. GAAP gross margin was 49.6%, compared to 52.3% in the prior quarter, and 53.3% in the year-ago quarter. There was a GAAP diluted loss per share of $0.21, and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $0.07.

“In the first quarter, revenue results were in line with our recent preliminary revenue guidance, gross margin was strong, and operating expenses declined on continued operating discipline. We continue to execute well on our 400 and 100Gbps PAM4 fiber optic data center products, which are expected to ramp this year in an expanding work-from-home market environment that is straining data center capacity. In the 5G wireless access market, which is a focus area for us, our new RF transceiver product introductions are particularly suited for the early stage 5G network rollout. We feel very encouraged by these new product areas of growth and the stabilization of our connected home broadband data market due to much needed bandwidth upgrades inside homes and the network itself,” commented Kishore Seendripu, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO.

“We also recently announced plans to acquire Intel’s Home Gateway Platform Division in the third quarter of this year. These assets add significant scale to our entire business while enabling us to provide compelling WiFi products and expanded broadband product offerings with tremendous growth opportunities that we will discuss in the near future,” Dr. Seendripu continued

MaxLinear to acquire Intel’s Home Gateway Platform Division


MaxLinear agreed to acquire Intel’s Home Gateway Platform Division assets in an all-cash, asset transaction valued at $150 million. The Home Gateway Platform Division comprises Wi-Fi Access Points, Ethernet and Home Gateway SoC products deployed across operator and retail markets. MaxLinear said the acquisition will complement its existing portfolio, bringing together a complete and scalable platform of connectivity and access solutions for