Sunday, May 12, 2013

FCC Plans Transition to All-IP Infrastructure

The FCC's Technology Transitions Policy Task Force (Task Force) authorized a 6-month trial to examine providing interconnected VoIP providers direct access to telephone numbers.  The goal is to speed the transition away from TDM to all-IP infrastructure while ensuring resiliency.

The FCC is seeking comment and data on several issues:

  • First, the FCC is seeking comment on a VoIP interconnection trial that would gather data to determine whether there are technical issues that need to be addressed and gather information relevant to the appropriate policy framework.
  • Second, regarding migration of the nation’s emergency calling (911) system to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911), the FCC is seeking comment on a trial that will assist the Commission, state, local and Tribal governments, and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in a few geographic areas to answer important technical and policy questions to accelerate the transition. Beyond NG911, the FCC is also seeking comment on how a trial could elicit data on the impact of network resiliency and public safety more broadly as consumers migrate to wireless and IP-based services that are dependent on commercial power.
  • Third, because at least one provider has proposed serving consumers with wireless service in place of wireline service in certain geographic areas, the FCC is seeking comment on a trial that would analyze the impact of doing so and, in particular, focus on the consumer experience and ensure that consumers have the ability to move back to a wireline product during the trial.

"Trials are a smart approach that we have deployed before. Transitions to modern fiber and IP-based broadband networks, and the increased deployment of wireless technology, have the potential to unleash substantial economic benefits for our country, and advance national priorities like education and health care. The ongoing transitions must be handled in a way that advances the Commission’s vital longstanding goals of competition, universal service, consumer protection and public safety," stated outgoing FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

Jerry James, CEO of COMPTEL, stated: "The most critical aspect of the transition of the PSTN to IP technology that needs to be addressed is interconnection between competitors and the ILEC on an IP basis for the purpose of exchanging managed voice traffic. COMPTEL believes Commission affirmation of competitors’ interconnection rights on an IP basis under the Act, which we initially asked to be addressed in 2008, would achieve the new, innovative services it wishes to unleash at a faster pace than a trial. Nonetheless, COMPTEL believes the outcome of any trial on the transition to IP should include an IP-to-IP interconnection arrangement that complies with the standards set forth in the Act and will be available for opt-in as part of interconnection agreements."

Huawei's Ren: No IPO for Next 5-10 Years

Huawei issued comments from its CEO and Founder, Mr. Ren Zhengfei following his first ever press briefing outlining the company's business ambitions and global cyber security challenges.

Two key comments from Mr. Ren:
  • None of his family will be the next CEO of the company
  • Huawei will not go public in the next 5-10 years. 
"As a leading global company, Huawei attaches great importance on cyber-security," Mr. Ren said. "Cyber-security is a significant challenge facing our industry globally today. The solution must involve governments, telecommunications operators and ICT companies, including Huawei and our peers, as well as end users coming together to take collaborative, solutions-oriented, multi-lateral approaches to mitigate the risk."

"Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the U.S. We have never sold any key equipment to major U.S. carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any U.S. government agency. Huawei has no connection to the cyber security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future."

Infonetics: Slow and Steady Growth Forecast for Carrier Ethernet

The global carrier Ethernet equipment market declined 3% to $34 billion in 2012, following a 13% spike in 2011, but is forecast to grow to $39 billion in 2017, according to a new report from Infonetics.

Some highlights of the report:

  • Spending on IP edge routers totaled $9.4 billion in 2012, the most of any carrier Ethernet equipment segment
  • Asia Pacific currently accounts for the greatest portion of carrier Ethernet equipment revenue, followed by EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa); by 2017, Infonetics expects North America will have passed EMEA to become the 2nd largest carrier Ethernet market.
  • Infonetics projects Carrier Ethernet equipment ports will top 95 million worldwide by 2017, with 10 Gigabit Ethernet growing fast to pass 1 Gigabit Ethernet.

“Carrier Ethernet is now a permanent, inseparable part of service provider networks, and the market has reached a steady state of investment as a result,” notes Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks and co-founder of Infonetics Research. “Though spending on legacy technologies like SONET/SDH and WDM will decline, investment in IP routers, carrier Ethernet switches, and Ethernet access devices will continue to rise, driven by the move to IP NGN and, of course, growing traffic—particularly video traffic.”

BT Reports Flat or Declining Revenue, Increased Profit

BT reported flat but stable revenue for its most recent fiscal quarter – a significantly improved performance for the company.  EBITDA was up 4% and earnings per share up 22%.  Some other key points:

  • Fibre available to more than half of UK homes and businesses and roll out accelerating in rural areas
  • Fibre customer base more than doubled, now at more than 1.5m
  • BT Global Services order intake of £2.0bn
  • The decline in underlying revenue excluding transit this year reflects lower revenue from calls and lines, the tough conditions in Europe and the financial services sector and regulatory price reductions.

"We are doing what we said we would do. In an environment where it is easier to focus only on the short-term, we are investing in our future and delivering growth in profits and dividends. We are driving fibre across the UK, launching high quality sports channels, investing in the high-growth regions of the world and will use our wi-fi capabilities and 4G spectrum to make sure our customers will be the best connected. We have created around 3,000 new jobs in the UK over the last year to support these investments.

"Our focus on improving efficiency across the business will allow us to continue to deliver strong financial results whilst making these investments. Our good performance this year is reflected in our dividend which is up 14% for the year.

Primus Telecom Sells North American Retail Operations for $129M

Primus Telecommunications Group agreed to sell its North American retail telecommunications operations to affiliates of York Capital Management, for approximately US$129 million.

PTGi's retail telecommunications operations in Canada provides international and domestic long-distance voice, local, broadband, Ethernet, hosted-VoIP and wireless services to SMEs, residential customers and government agencies. In the United States, PTGi provides international and domestic voice, data, business-class broadband, hosted IP-PBX, SIP trunking and VoIP services to SMEs and residential customers, and sales personnel offer business customers voice, data and hosted IP-PBX services.

Neil S. Subin, Chairman, stated, "This transaction represents a meaningful outcome of the board's strategic process. The Board is considering alternatives for the deployment of the proceeds from this sale." 

PTGi (Primus Telecommunications Group, Incorporated), which is based in McLean, Virginia, owns and operates its own global network of next-generation IP soft switches, and media gateways. Founded in 1994, PTGi is headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

Clustrix Raises $16.5 Million for Scale-out SQL for the Cloud

Clustrix, a start-up based in San Francisco with branch offices in Seattle and London, raised $16.5 million in funding for its scale-out SQL database engineered for the cloud.

In April, the company released Clustrix 5.0 on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The AWS offering is the next step in the company’s cloud strategy, following database-as-a-service announcements with Rackspace, GoGrid, Equinix, and BlueBoxGroup.

Clustrixsaid it is able to achieve a 50x performance advantage compared to legacy scale-up databases on AWS.

“The combination of big data and cloud computing has broken the legacy database, creating an industry transition to new scale-out database platforms.” said Robin Purohit, CEO at Clustrix. “The Clustrix scale-out SQL database is battle-tested in mission-critical customer applications all over the world, providing unprecedented levels of performance, scalability, and real-time analytics. In our next phase of growth, we are making it easy for developers to build their next great application on our platform.”

The funding round was led by current investors Sequoia Capital, U.S. Venture Partners, ATA Ventures, and Don Listwin. The company has raised $46.5 million to date in three rounds.

Cloudera and Splunk Partner on Big Da

Splunk and Cloudera, which specializes in Apache Hadoop in the enterprise, formed a strategic alliance for big data analytics across the enterprise. The alliance ensures bi-directional integration to easily and reliably move data between Splunk Enterprise and Hadoop.

“Splunk’s mission is to make data accessible, usable and valuable to everyone. By working together, Splunk and Cloudera deliver big data analytics that span the needs of any organization,” said Bill Gaylord, senior vice president of business development, Splunk. “The integration of Splunk Enterprise and CDH through Splunk Hadoop Connect provides customers a way to easily and reliably transfer data between the systems. This allows customers to easily use Splunk's best-in-class machine data ingestion and management to deliver data to Hadoop, or ingest data into Splunk from Hadoop, such as the output of Hadoop MapReduce jobs and easily analyze and visualize that data.”

NSN Enhances its Intelligent Self Organizing Networks

Nokia Siemens Networks is rolling enhancements to its intelligent Self Organizing Networks (iSON) to help operators manage self-configuration, self-optimization and self-healing.

New capabilities for Nokia Siemens Networks Tools include:

  • an Automated WCDMA Site Creation content pack, which extends the LTE version launched in February 2013. The content pack gives operators full visibility of the automated configuration of 3G sites, with regular status updates for engineering personnel. The time needed for base station configuration can be reduced from hours to minutes.
  • Security for LTE networks  -- security certificates are factory installed in the base station and configuration of the authenticated base stations in the operator network is fully automatic as part of the SON auto-connection and auto-configuration process.
  • New Mobility Management for LTE content pack, which provides support for seamless configuration and follow-up of SON operations related to LTE mobility management through a single interface. The new content pack reduces the set-up time for SON operational processes from 30 minutes to 5 minutes, and also provides full control and visibility of the automated process.
  • A New Element Outage Resolution content pack, which controls the automatic resolution of network failures in LTE, WCDMA and GSM networks. The self-healing capability detects base station outages and dormant cells and triggers common resolutions, such as restarting an element to re-establish connections.
  • A full set of professional services, ranging from customization to full outsourcing from our global delivery centers, to integrate iSON capabilities and the related content packs in operator networks.

“Automation is important to simplify network operations, and these extended functions now make the deployment and use of automation easier than ever. The enhancements give operators visibility on the impact of automated processes on network performance – and provide clear evidence that all network changes are working as expected,” said Peter Patomella, head of the operations support systems (OSS) business, Nokia Siemens Networks.

ShoreTel's Peter Blackmore Announces Retirement

Peter Blackmore, president and CEO of ShoreTel, announced his intention to retire as soon as a successor is announced.

"It has been a privilege to work with the ShoreTel team,” said Mr. Blackmore. "I am confident that the company is well-positioned in both the cloud and premise unified communications markets. With recent changes to our organizational and cost structure, we can now scale with a model positioned for profitability, enhancing our objective of delivering improved shareholder value."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Open Compute Project to Develop Top-of-rack Switch

The Open Compute Project, which was launched by Facebook to build better data center systems, confirmed plans to develop an open, OS-agnostic top-of-rack switch.  The effort will be led by Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook.

Companies that are supporting the effort include Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Facebook, Intel, Netronome, OpenDaylight, the Open Networking Foundation, and VMware.

In a blog posting, Frank Frankovsky, Chairman/President, Open Compute Project, says the goal of this undertaking is to create "an open, disaggregated switch will enable a faster pace of innovation in the development of networking hardware; help software-defined networking continue to evolve and flourish; and ultimately provide consumers of these technologies with the freedom they need to build infrastructures that are flexible, scalable, and efficient across the entire stack."

AT&T's Project VIP On Track - Small Cells and DAS

AT&T is on-track to bring LTE to 90% of its wireless footprint to year-end and Project VIP will extend the network significantly in both the wireless and wireline domains, said Bill Smith, President of AT&T Network Operations, speaking at the Jeffries 2013 Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.  AT&T's CAPEX budget for 2013 is in the $21 billion range.
Some notes from his presentation.

  • Project VIP aims to reach 10,000+ macro cell sites by year-end 2015, along with 1,000 DAS and 40,000+ small cell sites.
  • Project VIP also aims to bring fiber to 1 million new business locations by year-end 2015.
  • In 2012, AT&T installed 800 distributed antenna systems and deployed 81,000 new antennas.
  • More than 90% of traffic on AT&T's wireless network is now carried of its enhanced backhaul (Ethernet)
  • AT&T now has more than 33,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • AT&T's plan is to move to small cells that have UMTS + LTE + Wi-Fi

  • AT&T's network carries 43.4 petabytes on average business day

Blue Coat Acquires Netronome's SSL Inspector Line

Blue Coat has acquired Netronome's SSL appliance product line for an undisclosed sum.

The SSL appliances, which are based on Netronome’s NFP family of flow processors, provide visibility into encrypted SSL traffic. Driven by the adoption of cloud-based SaaS applications and the growing use of HTTPS for Web sites such as Google and Facebook, encrypted SSL packets can account for a significant percentage of the traffic on a corporate network.   Netronome’s SSL appliances deliver SSL decryption in networks ranging from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps full duplex.

Blue Coat said the Netronome SSL appliance technology will be fully integrated with its existing Blue Coat products.  The appliances also provide up to four data feeds to a wide range of in-network security applications, such as intrusion prevention, intrusion detection, sandboxing and forensics, which can then analyze the data for threats or data breaches.

“The SSL appliances are the industry’s highest performance transparent proxy for SSL network communications, and provide unique visibility exposing inbound threats and outbound leaks,” said Howard Bubb, chief executive officer at Netronome. “The product is an ideal complement to Blue Coat’s comprehensive suite of cyber security products, and extends their leadership position in securing SSL communications.”
“Netronome’s SSL appliances are crucial for helping customers address a threat landscape made more complex by the growing amount of SSL traffic on the network,” said Greg Clark, CEO at Blue Coat Systems. “Netronome’s leading high performance flow processors are at the foundation of its SSL appliances and will play an important role in our product portfolio moving forward.”

Netronome said the deal enables it to focus on its flow processors and flow processing technology.

Cyan Completes its IPO

Cyan completed its initial public offering (IPO) and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol "CYNI".

Mark Floyd, Cyan's Chairman and CEO, joined by members of the company’s management team, rang The Opening Bell on the NYSE.

"Listing on the NYSE marks a major milestone for the company and I want to thank the entire Cyan team, without whose tireless efforts this could never have happened," said Mark Floyd, chief executive officer, Cyan, Inc. "As a natural next step, we expect this event to enable Cyan to continue to catalyze the transformation and virtualization of networks globally. Our cutting edge Z-Series platforms combined with our unique, open and proven Blue Planet software, positions Cyan to benefit from the change in the way networks are designed and managed."

AT&T's Aio Wireless Offers Unlimited Talk/Text/Data with No Contract

AT&T has launched a new subsidiary -- Aio Wireless (pronounced "A-O") -- to deliver a new nationwide wireless service for consumers interested in value pricing without an annual contract.

Aio kicks off today Houston, Orlando and Tampa, offering a pre-paid, unlimited talk/text/data plan with no annual contract. Pricing ranges from $35 to $70 per month.  Download speeds on AT&T's 4G network are capped at 4 Mbps.

Aio expects the service to roll out in multiple markets across the U.S. over the next year.

“We talked with no-annual-contract customers and created our service around what they want.  They want simple, easy plan choices with unlimited offers; first-class service at affordable prices; great devices; nationwide voice and data coverage; and no annual contracts. Today’s wireless customers don't want to compromise,” said Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of Aio Wireless. “We are set up to win over value-conscious customers who are increasingly moving towards smartphones and mobile broadband.”

Devices offered include smartphones, tablets, and feature phones from Samsung, Nokia, ZTE and others.

Huawei's Founder Gives First Media Interview

Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, made his first media appearance since establishing the company over 26 years ago.

Speaking to the media in New Zealand, Ren said Huawei does not present a cyber security threat and there is no factual basis to make such accusations.

Huawei recently won a major bid to supply LTE equipment to  Telecom New Zealand.

Equinix Expands its AWS Direct Connect Service

Equinix continues its rollout of AWS Direct Connect Service, which is now available at the Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers in Seattle (SE2 and SE3).

AWS Direct Connect provides a private connection to Amazon Web Services (AWS) via a cross connect at the Equinix data center.  It can also be used to onnect to the AWS GovCloud (US) from all existing AWS Direct Connect locations in North America.

Existing Equinix customers can connect to AWS Direct Connect inside the Seattle data center.  Customers can achieve millisecond latency between their infrastructure and AWS infrastructure.

Since the roll out of AWS Direct Connect in Equinix’s Ashburn, Virginia data center campus, AWS Direct Connect has expanded to Equinix locations in Seattle, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. Equinix customers such as Badgeville, Box, Carpathia Hosting and NetApp are using AWS Direct Connect to lower network costs into and out of AWS, bypassing the public internet.

McAfee Announces 40 Gbps Intrusion Prevention Powered by Intel

McAfee introduced its Network Security Platform NS-series, a new network intrusion prevention system (IPS) appliance powered by Intel processors and capable of 40 Gbps throughput performance with all of the NGIPS services running.

The NS-series, which is McAfee’s first IPS hardware platform based on Intel technology, is more compact than previous appliances while retaining substantial port density.

“Although the raw throughput of the new McAfee NS-series is impressive by any measure, the real story is the full next generation IPS services at those throughputs,” said Pat Calhoun, senior vice president and general manager of network security at McAfee. “The IPS industry has been talking about next generation IPS functionality for several years now, but when scalability tests are run, these services are almost always disabled, sacrificing security to boost throughput. These next generation IPS services, such as application visibility, situational and behavioral analysis, are needed to address today’s advanced threats.”

BT Selects Level 3 for SIP Toll-Free in U.S.

Level 3 Communications will provide SIP Toll-Free Services BT over its MPLS network, enabling BT Conferencing to provide its flexible communications solutions in the U.S. The two-year agreement builds upon the existing business relationship between the two companies.

Dish Network Closes Q1 with 14 Million Subscribers, Higher Costs

DISH Network posted Q1 revenue of $3.56 billion, down from $3.58 billion for the corresponding period in 2012. The company cited declines its Blockbuster unit and said subscriber-related revenue for its DISH segment increased from $3.22 billion to $3.35 billion, or 4.0 percent.

Net income attributable to DISH Network totaled $216 million for the quarter ending March 31, 2013, compared to $360 million from the year-ago quarter. The company cited higher subscriber-related expenses driven by increased programming and subscriber acquisition costs.

Some highlights:

  • DISH added about 654,000 gross new pay-TV subscribers compared to approximately 673,000 gross new pay-TV subscribers in the prior year’s first quarter.
  • Net subscribers grew by approximately 36,000 in the first quarter. The company closed the first quarter with 14.092 million pay-TV subscribers compared to 14.071 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of first quarter 2012.
  • Pay-TV ARPU for the first quarter totaled $78.54, an improvement over the first quarter 2012 pay-TV ARPU of $76.24. Pay-TV subscriber churn rate was 1.47 percent versus 1.35 percent for first quarter 2012.
  • DISH also added about 66,000 net broadband subscribers in the first quarter, compared to the addition of approximately 6,000 broadband subscribers in the year-ago period.

SingTel Launches Mobile Broadband 150 Service

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) launched Mobile Broadband 150, a 4G mobile broadband service boasting top theoretical download speed of 150 Mbps.  Plans start at S$60 per month with a 5GB cap.

SingTel is offering a mobile Wi-Fi USB dongle modem as a promotion.

The service is accessible at many outdoor locations across Singapore, as well as popular indoor locations such as Jurong Point, Raffles City, Tampines Mall, Bishan Junction 8, Bugis Junction and Changi Airport.  SingTel is working closely with building owners and property developers to implement 150Mbps 4G capabilities in as many buildings as possible.