Thursday, November 28, 2013

Intel Prepares for Tablet War with Sub-$100 Pricing

by: James E. Carroll
Look for a new crop of 7" and 8" tablets powered by Intel processors with value pricing of under $100. These will be the opening salvos of what Intel expects will be a big battle for the tablet market in 2014.

During the course of 2013, Intel established its first footprint in the tablet market with a design win in a Samsung Galaxy device, said company CEO Brian Krzanich during an investor meeting in Santa Clara, California. For 2014, Intel will "invest to scale" with a goal of increasing shipments by 4X to more than 40 million Intel-based tablets sold.

Because the tablet market has grown up without Intel, the company's first objective has been to convince the ecosystem that it is serious about this space. In some cases, Intel has now made long-term agreements with OEMs to convince them of its determination.

The plan calls for a performance segmentation strategy, support for Android and Windows, integrating McAfee security into the offering and introducing "Perceptual Computing" capabilities driven by multiple sensors in each device.

Last week, Taiwan-based DigiTimes reported that Intel may be ready to offer US$1 billion in market subsidies to help major OEMs make the transition to its Bay Trail processors.  Per unit cost of the Intel processors is said to be around US$20, although the DigiTimes report suggests even lower prices for large brand vendors.

Sub-$100 Tablets

At the low-end, Black Friday sales in the United States included new tablets from Dell, HP and others based on Intel's current dual-core and quad-core "Medfield" Atom processors.  The company will span from upper end devices (above $450) to entry level devices (under $100) good for browsing the Web.

For example, Walmart is offering the HP Mesquite for $89.  At Costco, the Dell Venue 8 tablet is available for anyone buying a regular PC for $599 or more.  The same Dell Venue 8 tablet is expected to be available directly from Dell for $129.

Beyond driving prices lower, Intel is seeking to takes its innovations for the PCs down into the tablet market. The first step in this direction is to scale Android for 64-bit, which will allow larger memories and enable enterprise applications.  The first 64-bit Bay Trail Atom tablets are expected in 2014, beginning with Windows.

Broxton and SoFIA Mobility Chipsets for Tablets

Intel's LTE chipsets will also make their way into tablet designs.  By mid-2015, Intel plans to introduce a next generation Atom processor called "Broxton" for high-end smartphones and tables. Broxton will feature a core chassis that can be rapidly modified for integration with other intellectual property blocks.  The will enable Intel to rapidly rollout multiple iterations of the Broxton processor for OEM customers, much like how ARM has been able to create many customized versions of its cores.

Taking the same pragmatic market approach, Intel is also planning to introduce SoFIA entry-level, mobile broadband processor based on technology from its acquisition of Infineon Wireless.  The plan is to replace the ARM core with an IA design but to keep using the outside foundry for the first 3G device and later an LTE device. Eventually, SoFIA will move to an Intel foundry using 14nm.

SK Telecom Demos LTE-A Carrier Aggregation of 1.8GHz + 800MHz Bands

SK Telecom has demonstrated downlink speeds of 225 Mbps by using LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation to combine 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band. For comparison, the carrier's regular LTE service delivers a maximum of 150Mbps of speeds using 20MHz of continuous spectrum in one band.

SK Telecom said its planned upgrade to LTE-Advanced (20MHz+10MHz) will enable mobile customers to download an 800MB movie in just 28 seconds, significantly faster than other networks. Measured at their maximum speeds, downloading the same movie file via 3G, LTE, and the existing LTE-Advanced (10MHz+10MHz) would take 7 minutes and 24 seconds, 1 minute and 25 seconds, and 43 seconds, respectively.

The company said that it expects to launch the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ LTE-Advanced service nationwide through smartphones in the second half of 2014, pending release of LTE-Advanced smartphone chipsets.

SK Telecom is also working on aggregating three component carriers (20MHz+10MHz+10MHz) to support up to 300Mbps.

Alex Jinsung Choi, Executive Vice President and Head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom said, “SK Telecom has been leading the development of wireless networks since it commercialized CDMA (2G) technology for the world’s first time in 1996. Today’s successful demonstration of 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced will serve as a momentum for SK Telecom to realize more innovative network technologies, which will also lead to the growth of relevant industries, including device, content and convergence fields.”

  • In June 2013, SK Telecom launched the world's first LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service through smartphones. The LTE-A service offers download speeds of up to 150 Mbps, which is two times faster than its regular LTE service, and 10 times faster than its 3G network. LTE-A coverage initially is available in Seoul and central city areas of Gyeongg-do and Chungcheong-do.  Expansion to 84 cities nationwide is planned. At top speed, SK Telecom's LTE-A users can download an 800MB movie in just 43 seconds. The LTE-A implementation leverages several advanced mobile network technologies including Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Coordinated Multi Point (CoMP). SK Telecom plans to implement Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC) in 2014.
    CA supports up to 150 Mbps speed by combining two 10 MHz components carriers to form an effective bandwidth of 20 MHz. The company said further advancements should yield rates up to 300Mbps speed by aggregating two 20MHz component carriers by 2015, and become capable of combining three component carriers by 2016. An uplink capability using carrier aggregation should also be possible by 2016.  The current CA standards allow for up to five 20 MHz carriers to be aggregated.
  • In August 2013, SK Telecom gained authorization to operate 35 MHz bandwidth (20 downlink + 15 uplink) in 1.8GHz band, and immediately launched diverse measures to strengthen both its LTE and LTE-Advanced services by utilizing the newly acquired bandwidth.

Vivendi Confirms Plans to Spinoff SFR

Vivendi Group confirmed plans to proceed with a demerger under which shares in its SFR subsidiary will be distributed to Vivendi shareholders.  This will give Vivendi shareholders the opportunity to invest in two separate vehicles listed on the stock market and valued according to the specifics of their respective sectors.

Vivendi is an international media group, bringing together strong brands in the production and distribution of original content.

SFR is a French telecommunications operator delivering mobile, landline, internet, IP television and mobile internet to consumers and businesses.

  • Vodafone sold its 44% share in SFR to Vivendi in 2011.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BT Looks for Growth in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa

BT will hire 400 new employees to focus on regional business growth in key markets, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey. These new employees are in additional to the 600 positions announced earlier this year for BT’s Global Development Centre in Bangalore and to the c.600 hires expected for BT’s new Global Shared Service facility in Kuala Lumpur announced in April.

BT also confirmed the activation of five new IP and Ethernet Points of Presence starting with India and Turkey, four Network-to-Network Interfaces (NNIs) with the first in Indonesia, and an enhanced satellite capability to support remote coverage and disaster recovery.

TeliaSonera Dismisses Execs over Eurasian Deals

TeliaSonera announced the dismissal of four individuals because of irregularities in transactions and agreements made by TeliaSonera and partners in Eurasia over the past few years.  The company had retained the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP to conduct a review of the deals.

“The Board’s conclusion is that some senior employees no longer have the trust of the Board. Therefore they have been notified that their employment with TeliaSonera will be terminated and they will leave their position effective immediately. It is not the Board’s task to assess the legal aspects, but we have decided to hand over the material from the Norton Rose Fulbright review to the Prosecutor’s office as part of our continuous dialogue,” stated Marie Ehrling, Chairman of the TeliaSonera Board.

Separately, the company announced that Christian Luiga, currently Head of CEO Office, will assume the position as acting Chief Financial Officer, replacing Per-Arne Blomquist who will leave his position effective immediately.

  • In February 2013, Lars Nyberg resigned as President and CEO of TeliaSonera following an outside review of  Mannheimer Swartling regarding illegal business practices by the firm in Uzbekistan.  While the review did not find evidence that TeliaSonera engaged in bribery or participated in money laundering, it did criticize TeliaSonera for not vetting its investment partners in Uzbekistan. At the time, TeliaSonera's Board of Directors appointed Per-Arne Blomquist as acting President and CEO.

  • In October 2012, TeliaSonera's Board of Directors hired the law firm Mannheimer Swartling to investigate whether TeliaSonera's investment in a 3G license, frequencies and number blocks in Uzbekistan in 2007 involved corruption or money laundering. Later, the investigation was expanded to include more recent investments in connection with TeliaSonera's operations in Uzbekistan.

Orange to Sell Subsidiary in Dominican Republic for EUR 1.1 Billion

The Orange Group will sell 100% of Orange Dominicana S.A., its  subsidiary in the Dominican Republic, to Altice for US$1.435 billion (EUR 1.1 billion).

Orange Dominicana was established in 2000 and is now a leading telecommunication operator in the Dominican Republic, one of the largest and most dynamic economies in the Caribbean with an estimated population over 10 million. The company posted revenues of DOP 22.8 billion (EUR 451 million) in 2012 and had 3.4 million subscribers at the end of September 2013. The company employs approximately 1,400 people.

Altice is a multinational cable and telecommunications company with presence in six countries—Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, the French Overseas Territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Portugal and Switzerland.

The deal requires regulatory approval in the Dominican Republic.

Orange said this sale represents a significant step forward in the optimization of its assets portfolio.

DOCOMO Offers LTE Roaming for KT

NTT DOCOMO will offer LTE roaming to subscribers of Korean mobile operator KT Corporation when they travel in Japan.  DOCOMO said it plans to partner with other overseas mobile operators to offer LTE international roaming services, including for DOCOMO users traveling outside of Japan.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

GSA: Mobile Broadband Subscriptions Top 2 Billion

Global mobile broadband subscriptions have passed the 2 billion milestone, according to newly published statistics from GSA.

There were 126.1 million LTE subscriptions (Q2 2013) and this figure was expected to have topped 150 million by the end of September 2013.
There are currently 222 commercially launched LTE networks in 83 countries, rising to 260 commercial LTE networks by the end of the year.

Some other numbers from the report:

  • 23 commercially launched TD-LTE networks in 18 countries, of which 11 are dual mode FDD + TDD systems.  More trials are underway.  There are 274 LTE TDD devices on the market.
  • LTE-Advanced is a commercial reality already with several networks in South Korea using carrier aggregation.
  • The first wave of VoLTE service launches that include support for HD voice (using W-AMR) has begun. Many operators have committed to VoLTE deployments or trials in 2013-2014 including KT, LG U+, SK Telecom, Evolve Broadband, T Mobile Austria, Azercell, Sasktel, China Mobile, E Plus, O2 DE, CSL Limited, Bharti Airtel, RIL, NTT DoCoMo, Tele2 NL, Yota, StarHub, Telekom Slovenije, Tele2 SE, Etisalat UAE, AT&T, C-Spire, MetroPCS, US Cellular, Sprint, Verizon Wireless.
  • 55% of phones sold in Q3 2013 were smartphones, compared to 50% in Q1 2013.
  • 80% growth in data traffic between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013 driven mainly by video. 

The full report is online.

CloudEthernet Forum Sets Five Priorities

The CloudEthernet Forum (CEF) has identified five key priorities to drive its work:
  • Virtualization – VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft are all working to extend their platforms to encompass network virtualization, and network service providers need to manage both the end to end transport of storage and virtual machines, and network virtualisation tunnels. How to make sure that a unified management layer can be rolled out across a network, and meet the deterministic performance requirements of cloud traffic? The role of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) in this process is also considered.
  • Automation – automated creation and deployment of VMs is evolving quickly. Storage can be established in seconds, but network automation lags far behind. Vendor independent protocols and standards are needed to accelerate network automation and delivery and creation of services, particulary across multiple service providers – such as in a hybrid cloud environment.
  • Security – the cloud is well established as a principle, data has become highly mobile, but regulatory and privacy laws must be complied with. For the cloud to remain on its growth path it needs robust structures to ensure end to end security. The industry also needs to formulate guidelines to inform the security decisions made by governments and regulators.
  • Programmability – most routers and switches can be programmed by their makers, but few are open to third party APIs. A number of groups – including ETSI and the ONF– are working on this within the domain of a single customer, but coordination is needed around the specific needs of cloud computing, and inter-provider service continuity.
  • Analytics –  A continuous exchange of information between the network and the cloud service providers on network and application service performance and requirements is needed, followed by real-time analysis of whether additional resources, either from the cloud or the network service provider, are required.

Working groups are already being established by the CEF to address specific concerns, and members can get involved in shaping the future of the cloud computing.

“Networks are seeing a number of major transitions under the pressure of mobility and the move to cloud services,” said James Walker, President, CloudEthernet Forum (CEF). “Now the explosion in machine to machine (M2M) communications promises the fastest growth ever in connected devices, with 73% of devices being mobile or M2M by 2017. Unless the industry – vendors, service providers and OTT providers included – really work together to define global standards and address these challenges, then cloud computing could fall victim to its own success.”

Dell'Oro: Wireless Packet Core Revenue up 17% YoY

The overall Wireless Packet Core market grew more than 17% during the third quarter of 2013 versus the year-ago period, according to a new report from Dell'Oro Group.

Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco and Nokia Solutions and Networks were the top revenue-producing vendors in the overall market.  In the faster-growing Evolved Packet Core (EPC) segment, Alcatel-Lucent joined Ericsson and Huawei in the top three vendor list.

Dell'Oro said the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) market is changing in three ways:

  • Regions outside the North American LTE market are now driving EPC results, allowing a larger set of vendors to compete in the worldwide market.  We expect EPC spending to accelerate in Europe and in China in coming quarters.
  • New Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technology furnished by leading vendors is now being trialed by operators.  We expect that in 2014 and beyond, operators will begin deploying NFV EPC systems.
  • Additional services are being added along with EPC core networks, including Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Rich Communication Services (RCS).  These new systems will create additional vendor decisions for Service Providers as their networks are enhanced.

“Network Function Virtualization (NFV) means vendors can sell software-only telecom core network systems,” explained Chris DePuy, Vice President of Wireless Packet Core Research at Dell’Oro Group. “These new systems will run on top of data center-class servers, effectively matching the features and performance of systems that were previously available as hardware-based systems.”

Infonetics: SP Routers and Switch Market Rises 7% YoY in Q3

The global carrier router and switch market (IP edge and core routers and carrier Ethernet switches) totaled $3.6 billion in 3Q13, an increase of 7% from the year-ago 3rd quarter, according to a new report from Infonetics Research.

The third quarter is normally slow for the carrier router/switch market, so a 10% sequential drop isn’t overwhelmingly bad, especially with the expectation of a good 4Q13 and an improving year-over-year outlook,” says Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks and co-founder of Infonetics Research. “All three main IP router/switch categories – edge routers, core routers, and carrier Ethernet switches (CES) – are up from a year ago.”

Some additional highlights:

  • Sequential dips by Huawei and ZTE pulled Asia Pacific down in 3Q13, but Infonetics looks for the usual up-down pattern in the region to continue, giving rise to a strong 4Q13.
  • Though Europe/EMEA declined 10% in 3Q13 from 2Q13, European service providers are expected to carry out a decent budget flush in the 4th quarter.
  • Cisco maintains its lead with 38%, Alcatel-Lucent regains 2nd place, Juniper holds #3, while Huawei drops to #4 on the 3Q13 global router/CES revenue share leaderboard.
  • Infonetics forecasts the service provider router and switch market to grow at a 7% CAGR from 2012 to 2017, when it will reach $20.2 billion.

XO Names Christopher Ancell as CEO

XO Communications named Christopher Ancell as its new CEO, replacing Laura W. Thomas, who will remain with the company and assume the role of Chief Financial Officer, a position she previously held.

Ancell most recently served as senior vice president of sales and sales engineering for CoreSite Realty Corporation.  Prior to CoreSite, Ancell spent 12 years in a variety of leadership roles at both CenturyLink and Qwest, including president of CenturyLink's business markets organization and executive vice president of Qwest's business markets organization.

New Powerline Spec Approved -- IEEE 1901.2 - for Electical Smart Grids

The HomePlug Alliance applauded the approval of the IEEE 1901.2 Standard for Low-Frequency Narrow-Band Powerline Communications.

The new standard enables urban and long-distance communications through existing transformers in the electricity distribution network using frequencies below 500 kHz, while supporting data rates of up to 500 kbps.

The HomePlug Alliance is launching a "Netricity" certification and marketing program for the 1901.2 standard.   Netricity product applications include:

  • Utility grid modernization
  • Distribution automation
  • Meter-to-Grid connectivity
  • Micro-grids
  • Grid sensor communications
  • Load control
  • Demand response
  • Net metering
  • Street Lighting control
  • Photovoltaic panel monitoring

Microsemi Completes Symmetricom Acquisition - Precision Timing

Microsemi completed its previously announced acquisition of Symmetricom for approximately $230 million, or $7.18 per share, representing a premium of 49 percent based on the average closing price of Symmetricom's shares of common stock during the 90 trading days ended Oct. 18, 2013.

Microsemi said the deal enables it to offer the industry's largest and most complete timing product offering spanning from the core of the network to the edge and including the source, synchronization and distribution of end-to-end timing solutions.

Symmetricom specialized in highly precise timekeeping technologies for data, voice, mobile and video networks and services. It provides timekeeping in GPS satellites, national time references, and national power grids as well as in critical military and civilian networks. The company is based in San Jose, California.

Microsemi's other product lines include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed-signal integrated circuits, FPGAs, SoCs and ASICs; power management products; timing and voice processing devices; RF solutions; discrete components; security technologies and scalable anti-tamper products; Power-over-Ethernet ICs and midspans; as well as custom design capabilities and services. The company is based in Aliso Viejo, California.

"We look forward to integrating the talented Symmetricom team and leveraging our product and technology synergies to develop solutions that contribute to our customers' success," said James J. Peterson, chairman of the board and CEO of Microsemi. "We are eager to drive the business forward for our stakeholders as we continue to execute Microsemi's growth strategy."

Brazil's Copel Telecom Upgrades to 100G with Coriant

Copel Telecom, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Companhia Paranaense de Energia (Copel), has selected Coriant's coherent 100G technology to upgrade its optical backbone, which has been using the hiT 7300 intelligent transport platform since 2010.

Copel Telecom's backbone network boasts over 9,330 km of fiber optic cables deployed between its main ring and urban radials (self-sustained cables), totaling more than 30,000 km and reaching more than 400 cities in south Brazil.

"A robust backbone network allows us to support economic development and information exchange for both large and small enterprises, whose service needs also continue to evolve. We chose Coriant's proven solution because it offers an exceptional level of flexibility in the provisioning of high-capacity services, and an easy upgrade path to transmission speeds of 100G and beyond," stated Antonio Carlos W. P. Melo, chief technology officer, Copel Telecom.

China Mobile Demos International TDD/FDD VoLTE Call

China Mobile demonstrated international HD voice and video calls between its VoLTE trial networks in Chengdu and Hangzhou with the VoLTE network of a South Korean mobile operator.  Huawei participated in the demo.

Acacia Acquires More HSPA and LTE Patents

Acacia Research Corporation confirmed that it has has acquired US patents and foreign counterparts related to cellular HSPA and LTE technology.  The name of the seller and the purchase price were not disclosed.

“We are rapidly becoming the leader in technology licensing and we continue to grow our base of future revenues by adding new patent portfolios," commented Matthew Vella, CEO and President of Acacia Research Corporation.

Spain's Jazztel to Deploy Huawei's 400G Core Router

Spain's Jazztel will be the first operator in Western Europe to deploy the Huawei NE5000E 400G core router.  The Huawei NE5000E core router allows 400 Gbps linecards, which support flexible networking of 100GE ports, 40GE ports, and 10GE ports. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The burgeoning mobile bandwidth services and video services are spurring the growth of backbone network traffic and present an opportunity for the 400G technology in the lab to make its debut on a live network," said Gai Gang, president of Huawei Carrier IP Product Line. "After years of comprehensive research on operators' needs for network reconstruction, Huawei is now playing a leading role in 400G platform design. With the 400G platform technology, Huawei aims to simplify operators' network architecture, improve device performance and capacity, and construct sustainable IP backbone networks."

See also