Wednesday, June 30, 2021

AT&T to power its network with Microsoft Azure for Operators

AT&T will power its mobile network on Microsoft's Azure for Operators cloud starting with the 5G and migrating existing and future workloads over time. Microsoft will assume responsibility for both software development and deployment of AT&T’s Network Cloud immediately and bring AT&T’s existing network cloud to Azure over the next three years. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under an expanded strategic alliance between the firms, AT&T will continue to operate its network and retain its customer relationships. Microsoft is acquiring AT&T’s Network Cloud platform, which has been running the 5G core since AT&T launched 5G in 2018. In addition, Microsoft will gain access to AT&T’s intellectual property and technical expertise to grow its telecom flagship offering, Azure for Operators. AT&T's engineering team for Network Cloud will be transferred to Microsoft.

AT&T said that by adopting to Microsoft’s hybrid and hyperscale infrastructure it will substantially reduce engineering and development costs. 

“AT&T has one of the world’s most powerful global backbone networks serving hundreds of millions of subscribers. Our Network Cloud team has proved that running a network in the cloud drives speed, security, cost improvements and innovation. Microsoft’s decision to acquire these assets is a testament to AT&T’s leadership in network virtualization, culture of innovation, and realization of a telco-grade cloud stack,” said Andre Fuetsch, executive vice president and chief technology officer, AT&T. “The next step is making this capability accessible to operators around the world and ensuring it has the resources behind it to continue to evolve and improve. And do it securely. Microsoft’s cloud expertise and global reach make them the perfect fit for this next phase.”

Microsoft said the deal builds on its 2020 acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks.

“With Azure, operators can provide a more flexible and scalable service model, save infrastructure cost, and use AI to automate operations and differentiate customer offerings,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president Azure, Microsoft. “Through our collaboration with AT&T, Microsoft will expand its telecom portfolio to support operators with a carrier-grade cloud that provides seamless experiences across Microsoft’s cloud and the operator’s network.”


https://news.microsoft.com/2021/06/30/att-to-run-its-mobility-network-on-microsofts-azure-for-operators-cloud-delivering-cost-efficient-5g-services-at-scale/

In this video, Shawn Hakl, VP 5G Strategy at Microsoft Azure, talks about how Microsoft Azure helps network operators adopt cloud technologies for their network workloads and the important changes Azure made to build a carrier-grade cloud.



Download our 2021 Telco Infrastructure Report here: http://ngi.how/telco-2021

Microsoft outlines Azure for Operators service stack

In September 2020, Microsoft announced its Azure for Operators initiative promising to offer core infrastructure to both fixed and mobile network operators.Microsoft Azure for Operators is built on the company's recent acquisition of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, as well as on its development of Azure Edge Zones, which are local extensions of Azure, deployed with carriers or as private infrastructure.In a blog post, Yousef Khalidi Corporate Vice...

Microsoft launches Azure for Operators

 Microsoft launched an initiative called "Azure for Operators" that will provide core infrastructure to network operators.The strategy aims to harness the power of the intelligent edge, connected by high-bandwidth fiber or 5G, to create new opportunities and better efficiencies for communication service providers.Microsoft Azure for Operators is built on the company's recent acquisitio of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, as well as on its development...

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...

Amdocs moves to Microsoft Azure and the Azure for Operators

Amdocs is bringing its BSS/OSS portfolio to Microsoft Azure and the Azure for Operators (AFO) initiative. Amdocs says its expanded cooperation with Microsoft will accelerate the communications and media industry’s journey to the cloud by enabling its cloud-native BSS/OSS solutions and services to benefit from the cloud capabilities of Azure at scale. This integrated platform will enable service providers to automate and virtualize their network...


Orange to build experimental 5G SA cloud network in Lannion

Orange is preparing to build an experimental 5G Stand Alone (SA) fully end-to-end cloud network in Lannion, France to serve as a blueprint for its next generation of agile, cloud-native, AI-driven and fully automated infrastructure.

Orange is working with a number of industry partners, including Mavenir for cloud 5G Open RAN, Casa Systems for cloud 5G SA core network, Hewlett Packard Enterprise for Cloud 5G SA SDM (Subscriber Data Management), Dell Technologies for infrastructure and servers supporting RAN Centralized Unit, Distributed Unit and Core and Xiaomi for devices. Orange also uses a continuous integration and continuous deployment approach as well as orchestration open source solutions, including GitLab and ONAP, to automate networks and service management.


Starting in July, the network will test O-RAN radio equipment, CNF’s (Containerized Network Functions) on a cloud infrastructure, network data collection and AI automation. The experimental network will also host Information System OSS (Operations Support System - network inventory management and network operations) and BSS (Business Support System - CRM and billing).

In 2022, the network will expand to further locations to increase the number of users and to test vertical use-cases leveraging dynamic network slicing.

MichaĆ«l Trabbia, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Orange, commented: “Our ambition is to prepare Orange for the operator of the future by building more resilient and auto-adaptive networks that offer best in class quality of service in each situation. This experimental network represents an important milestone on our way to implement and deploy Open RAN and AI technologies to prepare on-demand connectivity and zero touch operator capabilities.”


MEF milestone for certified solutions

More than sixty service providers and technology vendors around the globe now offer MEF 3.0-certified Carrier Ethernet (CE) and SD-WAN solutions. Four of the top five companies as ranked on Vertical Systems Group’s 2020 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN Leaderboard—AT&T, Verizon, Comcast Business, and Windstream—have achieved MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification. In addition, the top four SD-WAN technology providers as ranked by Dell’Oro Group—Cisco, VMware, Fortinet, and Versa—have attained MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification.

Further milestones:

  • Thirty-six service providers to date have achieved MEF 3.0 CE Certification, including four of the top six as ranked on Vertical Systems Group’s 2020 Global Provider Carrier Ethernet Leaderboard—Orange Business Services, Lumen, Verizon, and BT.
  • MEF experienced a 75 percent annual growth rate in its MEF 3.0 services certifications, which includes SD-WAN and CE. 
  • 7,500 individuals in 85 countries from over 400 employer organizations have earned their MEF professional certifications in SD-WAN, SDN/NFV, and CE.

“This momentum signals that the industry continues to recognize the value of our certifications to ensure simplified, pre-validated functionality for buyers, and frictionless implementation and partnering within the MEF ecosystem,” said Nan Chen, President, MEF. “During this time of tremendous digital transformation taking place in enterprises, MEF 3.0 certified services and technologies are proven to conform to MEF’s meticulous specifications for performance, assurance, and agility. Customers that purchase these services can have confidence that they meet the industry’s highest standards. We applaud all of the companies and professionals that have worked diligently to achieve their MEF 3.0 certifications.”

https://www.mef.net/news/mef-3-0-certification-growth-fueled-by-companies-embracing-network-transformation-and-standardized-services/



Telstra sells a 49% stake in its towers business

Telstra will sell a 49% share in its Telstra InfraCo Towers business, which consists of approximately 8,200 towers across Australia, to a consortium comprised of the Future Fund, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation and Sunsuper.

The transaction values Telstra InfraCo Towers at $5.9 billion, representing an FY21 pro forma EV/EBITDAaL multiple of 28x. Telstra expects net cash proceeds after transaction costs of $2.8 billion at completion and the Towers entity will have no debt. Completion is expected in the first quarter of FY22.

Telstra intends to return approximately 50 percent of net proceeds to shareholders in FY22.


Telstra CEO, Andrew Penn said today’s announcement was a significant T22 milestone and an acceleration of Telstra’s strategy to unlock value in these assets. Our T22 strategy is delivering on multiple fronts and I am proud of what we have achieved. Today’s announcement is a further endorsement of the strategy, as the establishment of our infrastructure assets as a separate business was designed to enable us to better realise the value of these assets, take advantage of potential monetisation opportunities and create additional value for shareholders and that is exactly what today’s announcement achieves,” said Mr Penn.



Comcast Business wins $102M, 10-Year Ethernet Contract with DISA

The United States’ Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded a 10-year, $102.8M contract to Comcast Businesss to provide Ethernet that will enhance connectivity, improve network performance and manage overall telecommunications costs throughout the Agency’s Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), which includes Maryland, Washington, D.C, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. 

DISA provides enterprise network and IT infrastructure to support the requirements of the Department of Defense’s more than 40 military services, combatant commands and support organizations worldwide, including the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense. The Agency is currently undergoing a multi-phase process of replacing 17,000 legacy, point-to-point public switched telephone network (PSTN) circuits with Ethernet-based services across seven regions in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. CEG Region 3 provides DISA with the underlying network infrastructure to enable voice, video, and data services for their mission partners.


“We are honored that DISA has once again selected – and more importantly entrusted – Comcast Business for its important initiative of modernizing its communications infrastructure and enhancing connectivity with its partners across the military’s information network,” said Ken Folderauer, Vice President, Government Sales, Comcast Business. “This contract solidifies Comcast Business’ position as a premier provider of communications solutions to government agencies.”


Versa Networks secures $84 million for its SASE

Versa Networks, a start-up based in San Jose, California, announced $84 million in a Series D funding round for its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions, which combine security, advanced networking, SD-WAN, multitenancy, and analytics via the cloud, on-premises, or as a blended combination of both.

The funding round was co-led by investors Princeville Capital and RPS Ventures, with additional participation from existing investors, including Sequoia Capital. This brings the company’s total amount raised in funding to $196 million. 

Versa says the new funding comes on the back of a record year, where the growth of the remote workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic saw organizations across the world accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and turn to flexible and secure solutions such as SD-WAN and SASE to address their networking and security needs. As a result, Versa Networks has seen its worldwide sales in enterprises and channel partner registrations double, increased its workforce by 25 percent, and grew its market share to 150 service providers, including seven of the world’s top 10.

“SASE is the fastest-growing category in networking and security, and the continued support from our investors is a testament to not only our innovative technology, but to our ethos as a company to deliver secure access and networking solutions to all organizations, from enterprises to SMBs, that address and solve the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis,” said Kelly Ahuja, CEO of Versa Networks. “We are the only company that offers a fully integrated SASE solution. We saw the opportunity in the market and have been providing enterprises around the world with a truly modern secure network for five years, so it is exciting that the rest of the industry now recognizes the real value and benefits that SASE can provide.”

https://www.versa-networks.com

Fujitsu teams up with the TIP on O-RAN compliant 5G radios


Fujitsu Network Communications is collaborating with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenRAN Project Group to accelerate adoption of open radio access network infrastructu. 

Specifically, Fujitsu is contributing 5G multi-band O-RAN compliant radios to the TIP OpenRAN project group. The dual-band and tri-band radios are certified by Fujitsu and listed on the TIP Exchange marketplace, allowing service providers to quickly find interoperable solutions and reference designs for 4G and 5G networks.

“Availability of Open RAN-compliant radios is key to enabling service providers to quickly and efficiently build out tomorrow’s 5G networks,” said Dr. Femi Adeyemi, head of the wireless business unit at Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. “As a longstanding proponent of open networking, Fujitsu is committed to helping advance the adoption of Open RAN infrastructure through our innovative O-RAN radio technology.”


“The development of a vibrant ecosystem will allow mobile network operators to select best-of-breed components from an increasing number of suppliers,” said David Hutton, chief engineer, TIP. “Fujitsu’s contributions to the TIP OpenRAN project group and its commitment to self-certification of its products according to the requirements of operators within the Project Group are an important part of our efforts to continually improve performance of the RAN through innovation, automation and competition.”


Deutsche Telekom tests network slicing with Ericssson, Samsung

Deutsche Telekom completed a 5G end-to-end (E2E) network slicing trial at its Bonn lab on a Samsung S21 commercial device tethered to a VR headset. 

The trial used a commercial-grade 5G standalone (SA) infrastructure provided by Ericsson, including Radio Access Network (RAN), 5G Cloud Core, slice orchestration and ordering automation. 

Through 5G E2E network slicing, different service characteristics and quality parameters can be provided to each slice and adapted to customer needs with full isolation between slices. By creating multiple virtual networks on a single physical network infrastructure, service providers can develop new, differentiated services and business models without having to compromise on quality.  

The test was carried out for a cloud VR streaming game use case with two independent E2E network slices consisting of a default mobile broadband slice and a cloud VR gaming–optimized slice. The gaming slice was designed and configured to enable higher throughput and stable low latency, while also providing resource isolation between the two slices. The trial case demonstrated a superior experience on the gaming slice even under congested network conditions. 

Claudia Nemat, Board Member, Technology & Innovation, Deutsche Telekom, says: “5G SA Network Slicing sets a foundation for the creation of new service offerings to consumer and enterprise customers. As an experienced focused company, it is essential that we demonstrate the value of 5G slicing for our customers lives. As a world’s first, our unique collaboration with Ericsson and Samsung to provide slices to commercial devices shines a light on how we can bring these benefits to our customers.”  

SentinelOne completes highest-valued cybersecurity IPO

SentinelOne, a cybersecurity firm based in Mountain View, California, completed an initial public offering of 35,000,000 shares of its Class A common stock at a public offering price of $35.00 per share, raising $1.2 billion for the firm. 

The shares, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "S", closed on 30-June-2021 at $42.50, giving the company a market cap of over $10 billion.

AT&T Android customers get Google RCS as default

AT&T is adopting Messages by Google as the default messaging application for all AT&T customers in the United States using Android phones. 

The collaboration aims to help accelerate the industry toward global Rich Communication Services (RCS) coverage and interoperability to offer a consistent, secure, and enhanced messaging experience for all Android users around the world.

“Many AT&T customers have enjoyed the advantages of RCS for years when texting with friends and family,” said David Christopher, executive vice president and general manager – AT&T Mobility. “We look forward to working closely with Google to extend these benefits to even more of our customers as they enjoy richer conversations with others around the world.”

Working together, AT&T and Google will continue the momentum to upgrade SMS with enhanced messaging features offered in Messages, which includes the support of chat features based on the open RCS standard. 

In addition, Google is rolling out end-to-end encryption for one-on-one RCS conversations between people using Messages and people who have chat features enabled.