Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blueprint Column: P-OTS... Lessons Learned

By Jimmy Mizrahi

When P-OTS, or packet-optical transport systems, hit the market a few years ago, they brought with them a host of promises for more efficient and cost-effective next-generation transport. The systems were developed to address the increasing share of data and video traffic that’s consuming network bandwidth and capacity and eating away at operators’ profits. Through the integrated packaging of network layers, P-OTS aimed to bring down the cost per bit and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) enough to make these rich media services profitable and viable. But P-OTS never managed to deliver on its full potential due to poor execution and unique challenges faced by operators. Fortunately, though, P-OTS taught us all some valuable lessons which are being used to shape the roadmap for a new approach to “beyond next-generation (NG)” transport. 

The Lessons of P-OTS

There are many P-OTS solutions available in the marketplace today, and these platforms utilize a wide variety of architectures and concepts. But none of them quite fit the requirements for true NG transport. Here’s why…  First and foremost, these systems do not provide a real converged solution because they lack full CESR capabilities; in order to support advanced data services, another system must be installed alongside the P-OTS. Next, multiple management systems are needed to support all network layers; this results in higher opex as the technical staff must provision multiple systems rather than a unified system, and there is a greater chance to introduce errors as well. And finally, P-OTS involve a high cost of entry when only part of the solution may be required initially. The reason for these shortcomings is that P-OTS platforms are usually repurposed from vendors’ existing optical or data portfolios and, as a result, they come with inherent compromises. These limitations often lead to higher entry costs, stranded assets, decreased cost efficiency and inefficient OAM – some of the very things that P-OTS endeavored to alleviate.

While P-OTS may have fallen short of delivering on its promises of cost savings and operational simplicity, it did prove to be a step in the right direction conceptually, particularly in the areas of packaging efficiency, multi-layer integration and convergence. Experiences with early P-OTS implementations have provided valuable insight into what a modern telecoms network should look like.

A Roadmap for NG Transport

While P-OTS had some shortcomings, it was a good temporary solution that helped to shape the roadmap for what’s really needed in networks today.

Support for the exponential growth of bandwidth

The amount of data and multimedia traffic that’s traversed networks in recent years has been unparalleled, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. To effectively deal with the rapid growth of bandwidth, a true convergence of network layers is essential.

Reduction in infrastructure costs

Operators don’t want to pay for functionality they’re not using or might never use. To reduce the cost of building and operating networks, a modular and flexible system design is required to provide a low entry cost and pay-as-you-grow scalability for added functionality. 

Alleviation of revenue pressure

Multiple networks mean higher capex and opex and lower revenue per bit. To restore operators’ profitability, Layer 0-3 functionality must be integrated in a single platform to optimize the whole (multi-layered) architecture instead of the individual parts (layers). 

Acceleration of service delivery 

These days, new services have to be turned up more quickly than ever. And existing services need to be easily maintained for maximum efficiency. To simplify and accelerate the introduction and maintenance of new services, a single management system for all network layers is needed to automate the process and save work.

Only a fully integrated multi-layer transport solution can satisfy these roadmap goals and beyond. That solution is the Optimized Multi-Layer Transport (OMLT) platform. 

The OMLT, the First Beyond NG Transport Solution

A highly unique and innovative new breed of transport solution, the OMLT, or Optimized Multi-Layer Transport platform, targets the shortcomings of today’s P-OTS to address operators’ needs and challenges as they introduce new services in a timely and cost-effective way. This “beyond NG” transport solution does this by: 

  • Focusing on the true convergence of the optical and packet layers to reduce the cost of building and operating networks
  • Integrating Layer 0 to Layer 3 functionality in a single platform, making possible the reduction of CAPEX, OPEX and cost per bit 
  • Providing a modular and flexible system design that enables a low entry cost and pay-as-you-grow scalability for added functionality
  • Presenting a single management system for all network layers, allowing new services to be introduced quickly and maintained easily

The fully integrated, multi-layer OMLT addresses operators’ pain points by eliminating integration costs, streamlining procedures and training, reducing network elements and lowering power requirements – with the ultimate goal of reducing TCO, decreasing the cost per bit and making services more profitable. 

Unified Multi-Layer, Multi-System Management

Not only does the OMLT simplify and streamline networks from an architectural perspective, it also does so from a management point of view. Until now, the optical and packet layers had to be configured and managed via several different systems. This was, clearly, a manual and laborious process which held great potential for error, especially when configuring numerous network elements, cards and wavelengths. The OMLT changes all that. 

In contrast to the multiple management systems that were required in the past, the OMLT utilizes a single, unified management system that provides an integrated view across layers, enabling services and the underlying network to be provisioned, managed and tracked end to end. Now, operators can get multiple physical and logical views, making visualization of the connection and correlation between different network layers possible. 

In addition to the unified management system, the OMLT includes a sophisticated planning tool that brings plug-and-play convenience to the planning process, for both equipment and traffic. Whether for greenfield or brownfield installations, the planning tool enables two-way interaction with the management system via an XML (extensible markup language) file that contains configuration information for all network elements, cards, modules and optical attributes, as illustrated here:

This level of optimized, unified network management and plug-and-play planning can save a tremendous amount of time and bring to bear a number of benefits including opex savings, a more efficient use of staff, shorter learning curves and fewer errors.  


While P-OTS failed to deliver on all the promises of operational efficiencies and capex savings, it did provide some valuable lessons learned that shaped a roadmap for the future of next-generation transport networking. That future is the OMLT – a beyond NG transport solution that brings the best of the optical and packet worlds under one platform without compromising on cost or functionality.

About the Author

Jimmy Mizrahi leads the product management team for the NG packet-optical product lines at ECI Telecom. Prior to this role, he worked in Strategic Marketing at ECI, specializing in alternative carrier applications for utilities and cable operators worldwide. Before joining ECI, Jimmy held positions at Tadiran Telecom and Enavis Networks, where he designed network solutions for global and cellular applications. He has 10 years of experience in the telecoms market in the areas of product management, product marketing, strategic marketing and business planning. Jimmy holds a BA in Electrical Engineering from Tel Aviv University.

ECI Telecom delivers innovative communications platforms to carriers and service providers worldwide. ECI provides efficient platforms and solutions that enable customers to rapidly deploy cost-effective, revenue-generating services. Founded in 1961, Israel-based ECI has consistently delivered customer-focused networking solutions to the world’s largest carriers. The Company is also a market leader in many emerging markets and has focused solutions for utilities. ECI provides scalable broadband access, transport and data networking infrastructure that provides the foundation for the communications of tomorrow, including next-generation voice, IPTV, mobility and other business solutions.

Second Two Galileo Satellites Launched

The second two Galileo satellites were launched by Arianespace from French Guiana using Russian-built Soyuz ST vehicle.  The first two Galileo navigational satellites were launched a year ago.

The Galileo global satellite navigation system will consist of 30 satellites and their associated ground infrastructure.  The goal is to have the first 18 satellites in orbit by late 2014, at which point service can begin.  Project completion is expected by the end of the decade.

The Galileo satellites have an orbital altitude of 23,222 km.

The Galileo satellites were built by a consortium with Astrium as prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space in charge of assembly, integration and testing.

The European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) have placed orders with Arianespace to launch 22 other satellites in the Galileo constellation using five Soyuz and three Ariane 5 rockets.

“Since the first launch a year ago, Galileo’s technology has proven itself in orbit,” said Didier Faivre, ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related activities.  “Thanks to the satellites launched today, the testing phase will be completed, and clear the way for rapid full-scale deployment of the constellation."

ITU Telecom World 2012 Opens in Dubai

ITU Telecom World 2012, which is being held this week at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, brings together government ministers, regulators and manufacturers for five days of discussion and debate.

Notable speakers and panellists this year include: Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent; Osman Sultan, CEO, du; Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, CEO, Etisalat Group; Eugene Kaspersky, CEO, Kaspersky Lab; Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Saud Al-Thani, Chairman, Q-Tel; Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director General, TRA; Romain Bausch, President and CEO, SES; John Davies, Vice President, World Ahead Programme, Intel; R. Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO, MTN; Ulf Ewaldsson, SVP,CTO, Ericsson; and Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Cisco.

Telefónica to Sell Call Center Business for EUR 1 Billion

Telefónica agreed to sell its Atento call center business to Bain Capital for EUR 1 billion.

Atento operates 165 contact centers in 17 countries and employs 156,000 employees. The business has 2011 revenue of EUR 1.802 billion from approximately 560 corporate clients.

Under the deal, Telefonica will remain Atento’s service provider for nine years.

Deutsche Telekom Expects T-Mobile USA + MetroPCS Deal to Close in Q2 2013

Deutsche Telekom expects the  T-Mobile USA + MetroPCS merger to be completed in Q2 2013.  Tim Höttges, Deutsche Telekom's CFO, said the stock-swap transaction will not involve any cash changing hands and offers a big value in terms of new subscribers, spectrum and operational synergies.

Höttges said T-Mobile USA will receive more than nine million additional customers, as well as valuable spectrum for improving services in many urban areas. The deal also gives a huge boost to the expansion of the LTE network.

calculates the value of these cost synergies at between six to seven billion dollars, and that’s without including revenue synergies.

After the transaction, Deutsche Telekom will own 74 percent of an extremely promising company.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Amazon Web Services Sees Rapid Growth in Government Usage

Over 300 government agencies and 1,500 education institutions are now using Amazon Web Services for applications including big data analytics, high performance computing, web and collaboration applications, archiving and storage, and disaster relief. 
AWS also announced new services and features available in the AWS GovCloud (US) Region (AWS GovCloud), including the addition of high performance computing capabilities. 
AWS GovCloud is a US-persons AWS region designed to allow US government agencies and contractors to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements, such as ITAR. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fidelity Investments to Build $200 Million Data Center in Nebraska

Fidelity Investments will build a massive data center in Papillon, Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha).

Fidelity has committed to invest a minimum of $200 million to construct and outfit the data center.  Completion is expected in 2014.

The governor of Nebraska cited his state's lower power rates and and central U.S. location as key factors in attracting the project, along with tax incentives.

Sprint Announces Next 20 LTE Markets

Sprint announced the next 20 cities in its LTE rollout, including parts of the San Francisco Bay region, sections of Indiana and southwest Florida.  These rollouts are underway.  Sprint's LTE network is currently active in 24 markets across the country.

“We’re committed to providing improved 3G and 4G LTE as quickly as possible, and keeping our customers informed as to when and where they can experience the new network’s superior performance and speed,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president-Network, Sprint.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Broadband Forum Conducts VDSL2 G.vector Testing

The Broadband Forum and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) conducted the first interoperability testing of chipsets supporting the ITU-T’s new G.vector specifications.

Broadcom, Ikanos, Lantiq, Realtek and Triductor all participated in the plugfest, providing
chipset platforms to test with one another.

Telebyte also participated, providing testequipment to simulate the crosstalk of copper networks during the testing.

“This was the first event in a very important journey and we are looking forward to continued
progress as the innovative technology is implemented and scaled for deployment,” commented Kevin Foster, Head of BT’s UK Access Platform Evolution. “Interoperability has always been a key component of successful large-scale deployment of DSL, and we are looking to the Broadband Forum and UNH-IOL labs to lead these testing efforts to allow Operators to achieve smooth introduction of DSL innovations such as Vectoring.”

European Investment Bank Loans EUR 500 Million to Ericsson R&D

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will loan EUR 500 million to Ericsson to support its R&D efforts for the next generation of mobile broadband technology.  The load is designated for research sites in Sweden and Finland.

Ericsson noted that it invested SEK 32.6 billion in R&D in 2011, including restructuring charges.

Ikanos Announces its Velocity-3 Vectored VDSL Chipset

Ikanos announced its Velocity-3 Vectored VDSL chipset and software solution.

The company's "NodeScale" Vectoring technology identifies and cancels VDSL crosstalk on up to 384 copper lines in a bundle.  The technology eliminates crosstalk from all lines in the vectored group, independent of binder, cable or chassis, increasing rate, reach, robustness and reliability.

“With Velocity-3, we are delivering the broadband 'holy grail':  fiber speeds for a fraction of the cost of deploying fiber to individual homes,” according to Omid Tahernia, chief executive officer at Ikanos.  “Carriers benefit by super-charging their existing one billion copper line infrastructure, while satisfying consumers’ needs for ever-increasing bandwidth applications.”

Juniper Scales its MX Edge Router, Adds Virtualization

Juniper Networks  introduced its scaled-up MX2020 and MX2010 3D Universal Edge Routers, packing up to 80 Tbps of routing capability in a single chassis and adding new virtualization capabilities for multivendor applications.

At the high-end, a single MX2020 3D Universal Edge router offers 80 Tbps of capacity using Juniper's existing Junos Trio Chipset.  Existing line-cards based on the Trio chipset can be added to the new chassis. The MX2010 3D router supports 40 Tbps of capacity.

Juniper also introduced a JunosV App Engine for the MX Series.  This hypervisor allows Service Providers to run various applications simultaneously in isolation, such as load balancing, security services, online gaming and advertising.

The MX Virtual Chassis can virtualize broadband or business edge services over multiple MX 3D routers allowing service providers to operate the systems as a single chassis and quickly add new subscribers.

Other enhancements include a programmable Path Computational Element (PCE) on the MX.
Juniper is also offering a Rapid Assessment suite of services to enable simplified integration and testing with operating and business support systems (OSS/BSS), traffic migration, network security, and virtual application development.

"Our vision for the new network is to provide innovations that help transform service providers into super providers," said Rami Rahim, senior vice president, Edge and Aggregation Business Unit, Juniper Networks. "Thousands of MX customers have validated the need for massive scaling and reduced complexity driven by emerging video, applications, and cloud-based services. We see our new edge services engine as the first solution that truly empowers service providers to take control of their business by removing barriers currently hindering innovation and revenue expansion."

Telefónica and Jazztel Announce FTTH Sharing Accord

Telefónica de España and Jazz Telecom (Jazztel) announced a network infrastructure sharing agreement covering fiber to the home (FTTH) projects in Spain.  The deal could have a potential reach of up to 3 million fiber end points across Spain.  The companies said the are open to other operators also joining the pact.

Alcatel-Lucent Opens New Conversation with APIs for IMS

Alcatel-Lucent introduced a suite of nine ‘New Conversation APIs’ to help developers access capabilities in service providers'  IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) infrastrucuture.

The suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) is aimed at jump starting the ecosystem of companies developing solutions for 4G LTE and IP networks. These capabilities include high definition voice and video, audio/video conferencing, interactive voice, messaging and call control, which can be used to build services for both consumers and businesses.

Alcatel-Lucent said because its new APIs are based on REpresentational State Transfer (REST), a popular, easy-to-use software architecture used to create applications for the Web, developers can more easily create services delivered via IMS.  For service providers, this opens new retail and wholesale revenue opportunities.

Sandip Mukerjee, President of Advanced Communications at Alcatel-Lucent said: “Today, no one else in the marketplace is offering service providers what our New Conversation APIs offer. They enable service providers to fast-track 4G innovation – turning IMS into a real engine for the rapid creation of new services. We make it easy to access the rich features supported by service providers and thereby attract more developers. New applications using IMS-based APIs can be built very quickly, in turn allowing the rapid introduction of more services, and a growth in revenue that comes from our customers being able to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.”

Clearwire Speculation Centers on Spectrum and TD-LTE

Clearwire shares rose 71% on Thursday, as speculation rose that Softbank may bid to acquire the firm. Clearwire is the largest spectrum holder in U.S. and is closely tied with Sprint.

Clearwire operates a nationwide WiMAX network and is planning to make the transition to TD-LTE.  Its main wholesale customer and investor is Sprint, which has extended its 4G agreement through 2015.  The companies have outlined ways of bridging their FD-LTE and TD-LTE networks with dual-mode devices that are under development.  However, Clearwire's CAPEX investments in its network have slowed to a crawl in 2012 as the company conserves cash as it looks for new funding sources.

Revenue in Q2 2012 declined slightly year over year to $316.9 million primarily due to a year over year decline in wholesale revenue. Second quarter 2012 wholesale revenue of $117.6 million, was sequentially flat as compared to first quarter 2012 wholesale revenue of $117.8 million, and down (11)% year over year despite a 50% increase in wholesale usage over the same period.

Some other notes on Clearwire:

  • Clearwire holds the largest spectrum portfolio in the U.S. but in upper bands.  Its spectrum is an average 163 MHz in the top 100  U.S. markets.
  • Clearwire's network at the end of Q2 2012 covered 134 million POPs, about the same as a year earlier.
  • At the end of Q2 2012, Clearwire was serving 9.6 million wholesale subscribers (mostly Sprint) and 1.3 million retail subscribers.  This compares with 6.4 million wholesale and 1.3 million retail subscribers a year earlier.
  • ARPU for Q2 2012 was $46.12 compared with $47.59 a year earlier.
  • Clearwire's CAPEX in Q2 2012 was $24 million
  • Sequans and Qualcomm are key silicon contributors in the TD-LTE ecosystem.
  • China Mobile and Clearwire have agreed to TD-LTE roaming betweeen U.S. and China.

A Busy Month for Softbank: Acquisition of eAccess (Japan) and Discussions with Sprint

Sprint confirmed published reports that it is in discussion with Softbank of Japan about a possible take-over or major investment.

Various media sources have speculated that a buyout of Sprint could be worth US$12.8 billion.  Softbank may also be looking at acquiring Clearwire.

Sprint is the No.3 mobile operator in the U.S. with 56 million subscribers.

Both Clearwire and Softbank Japan are pursuing TD-LTE for their respective networks.

The news follows closely on Softbank's decision to undertake another major deal in its home market.

Earlier this month, Softbank Mobile agreed to acquire eAccess in a deal that combines Japan's No.3 and No.4 mobile operators.  The stock-swap was valued at approximately ¥180 billion, or $2.3 billion.

The companies plan to continue to operate both the Softbank and EMOBILE brands following the merger.  Network and spectrum integration will provide key advantages to both brands.

SOFTBANK MOBILE will provide eAccess with access to its 900 MHz network (Band8, operating band specified in 3GPP) and 2.1 GHz network (Band1, operating band specified in 3GPP), which will allow eAccess to provide the voice and data communications service in broader areas.

eAccess will provide SOFTBANK MOBILE with access to its 1.7 GHz (Band3, operating band specified in 3GPP) FDD LTE network for the data communications service, which will allow SOFTBANK MOBILE to use both 2.1 GHz and 1.7 GHz for its FDD LTE service.

SOFTBANK MOBILE and eAccess will integrate their base station sites, enabling both brands to expand service coverage more quickly and to decrease capital expenditures and maintenance costs.  The backbone and backhaul networks will also be integrated.
Softbanks currently has more than 9,000 LTE base stations in operation.  It plans to scale this to 20,000 LTE base stations by March 2013.  At this point, eAccess should have about 10,000 LTE base stations of its own.

Softbank said the deal gives it a key spectrum advantage over Japan's No. mobile operator, KDDI-au.  For iPhone 5 service, Softbank will be able to offer coverage over both the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands, whereas au will be limited to its 2.1 GHz spectrum footprint.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Telefônica | Vivo Picks Ericsson for LTE in Brazil

Ericsson announced a major win to supply Vivo's 4G/LTE network in the North and Mid-Western regions of Brazil, as well as the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia and Sergipe. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Vivo is Brazil's largest operator serving 75.7 million mobile subscribers.

The 4G/LTE network will use Ericsson's RBS 6000 multi-standard radio base stations.

This marks Ericsson's second LTE win in Brazil.

Tilera Debuts 64-bit, 9-Core Processor for Network Appliances

Tilera unveiled a 64-bit 9-core processor targeted at applications in networking, multimedia, storage and general purpose computing.

The TILE-Gx9 integrates a high-performance memory controller, Ethernet and PCI Express interfaces, and available crypto and compression engines to reduce both system cost and circuit board area. The multicore performance enables the device to power 10 Gbps routers and firewalls.

The TILE-Gx9 is fabricated in a 40 nanometer technology.  Its 3 x 3 array of three-issue, 64-bit cores are connected through Tilera’s patented iMesh on-chip network that supports an advanced virtual memory system.  Each core includes 32 kilobytes (KB) of L1 I-cache, 32 KB of L1 D-cache and 256 KB L2 cache, with 2.3 megabytes L3 coherent cache across the device. Maximum processor utilization is ensured with an on-board 72-bit DDR3 memory controller that supports up to 1600 Mt/s speeds and 64 GBytes total capacity.

“We are seeing enormous market traction and design win activity with our 16 and 36-core TILE-Gx processors, unseating embedded processors and other difficult-to-program devices,” said Devesh Garg, president and CEO at Tilera.

Funambol Secures Funding for White Label Personal Cloud

Funambol  (pronounced Fu-NAHM-bol), a start-up offering white-label personal cloud solutions for mobile providers, announced $5.75 million in new funding.

Funabol believes the market for personal clouds is transitioning from 'silos' such as iCloud, Google Drive and MS SkyDrive to services that seamlessly support multiple brands to enable users to store all of their content in one cloud for convenience. Funabol's solution help consumersto keep their digital life in sync, including support for pictures, videos, files, music, contacts and calendars, while supporting multiple brands of devices. The providers are also realizing the business case for significant financial returns resulting from reduced customer churn, increased customer acquisition and new revenue streams.

 "Major global mobile providers are seeking a white-label personal cloud solution, and we are delighted to work with them to grow their customer acquisition and retention capabilities," said Amit Chawla, Funambol CEO.

The new financing came from Nexit Ventures and Castile Ventures and HIG Growth Capital.

  • Funambol is based in Foster City, California.  The company is headed by Amit Chawla (CEO), who previously was CEO of enterprise mobility specialist Agito Networks, which was acquired by ShoreTel.  Prior to Agito, he was CEO of NexVerse Networks, where he spearheaded the merger with a division of ECI Telecom to form Veraz Networks.

Vodacom Launches LTE in Johannesburg, South Africa

Vodacom Group switched on its commercial LTE network in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The LTE service will initially be accessible via approximately 70 base stations in Johannesburg. Vodacom said its network transformation project aims to have 500 sites enabled for LTE by the end of the year as the rollout expands to other cities.  Vodacom has some 9,000 base stations in its network. Ninety percent of  3G base stations are 21.6 Mbps enabled, and almost 80% are 43.2 Mbps enabled. Vodacom will begin selling its first LTE devices from its shops later this month.

"Vodacom was the first network in SA to test LTE more than two years ago, and since then we've been busy upgrading base stations and our fibre-optic transmission network in preparation for today. It's great to claim another South African first for Vodacom with the launch of LTE services to the public, and it's even more pleasing that we've done this ahead of many other advanced economies around the world. South Africa has joined an exclusive club with the fastest connectivity the world has to offer," stated Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub.