Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blueprint -- New Directions For Ethernet: Slower Speeds

by David Fair, Board of Directors, Ethernet Alliance; Unified Networking Marketing Manager, Intel Corporation

Odd title for a networking article, don’t you think?  It’s odd for a couple of reasons, but reasons that reveal the vibrancy of Ethernet.  First, this is a forty-year old technology if you mark its birth from Bob Metcalf’s famous napkin sketch:

What’s remarkable is that this technology even has “new directions” after four decades!  But in fact, arguably, today is the most dynamic period in Ethernet’s history gauged by the number of major new specifications under discussion and development.  The longevity of Ethernet is unprecedented in the tech industry.  The IEEE has completed specs for both 40GbE and 100GbE, the former now in production and the latter shipping today for service provider carriers and sampling for data centers.

And the IEEE is working on a 400GbE specification.  The IEEE also recently added the P802.3by 25Gb/s Ethernet Task Force.  Specific to Ethernet over twisted pairs terminated in the ubiquitous RJ-45 jack, the IEEE has initiated study groups for 25GBASE-T and something called “Next Generation Enterprise Access” BASE-T.  It’s the later I want to talk about.

For four decades, Ethernet advanced on a “powers-of-ten” model from an initial 10 Mbps to 100 to 1GbE to 10GbE.  Part of why that worked was that the ratified IEEE Ethernet speeds kept well ahead of most market requirements.  Bob Metcalf himself started this trend by defining the first Ethernet speed of 2.94 Mbps in 1973, (a rate derived from the Xerox Alto system clock - overkill in 1973 except maybe for Xerox laser printers). To put that in perspective, 1973 was four years before the first Apple II computer became available and eight years before the launch of the first IBM PC.  The “DIX” group (Digital Equipment, Intel, and Xerox) increased the rate to 10Mbps in 1980 in their proposal to the IEEE, who stayed with that rate in the first IEEE Ethernet standard (1983).  But moving an entire Ethernet ecosystem to a new speed is expensive for everyone.  The “powers-of-ten” model helped control those costs.

What changed?  Well, my theory is that Ethernet simply got too successful for the powers-of-ten model.  By that I mean that the volumes got large enough for some specific requirements at more fine-grained speeds to warrant infrastructure upgrades to support those speeds.  And the volumes are large.  My company, Intel, for example, just celebrated shipping our one-billionth Ethernet controller.  We’ve been at it for over three decades, but that’s a lot of Ethernet!  And it continues to grow fast.
Next Generation Enterprise Access BASE-T is a case in point.  The “powers-of-ten” answer to 1GbE 1000BASE-T was naturally 10GBASE-T.  10GBASE-T is now the fastest growing segment of the 10GbE market because it will support up to 100m over low-cost CAT 6A cable and is backward compatible with 1000BASE-T.

But the road to today’s successful 10GBASE-T had a few bumps in it.  Today’s 10GBASE-T PHY is essentially a very sophisticated Digital Signal Processor because that’s what was required to deliver 100m over twisted pair.  And most important for this story is that 10GBASE-T requires CAT 6A cable at a minimum for reliable operation for up to 100m.

The requirement for CAT 6A cable is not a problem for most data centers for two reasons.  First, many existing data centers “future proofed” themselves by installing cable of that quality in their last major upgrade anyway.  And second, twisted pair is inexpensive to purchase and relatively inexpensive to install in an open data center.

It is the rapid growth of wireless access points and increases in their speed specifically that creates the problem leading to a desire Next Generation Enterprise Access BASE-T.   Not in the data center but rather in the office.  Most have built out a wireless infrastructure with CAT 5e or 6 in the ceilings connecting wireless access points at 1GbE, in addition to connecting wired desktops and workstations.  But the latest wireless spec, IEEE 802.11ac can drive bandwidth back on the wire well beyond 1GbE.  And some of those desktops and workstations may be chomping at the bit as well, so to speak, to go faster than 1GbE.

Houston, we have a problem.  And the problem is that ripping and replacing that CAT 5e or 6 cabling in an office environment can be stunningly expensive.  Not for the wire itself but for the installation costs.  So the goal for Next Generation Enterprise Access is to come up with a solution “between” the existing IEEE powers-of-ten solutions.  “Between” in that it has to work on existing CAT 5e or 6 cabling.  And it has to deliver significantly more than 1GbE.  It might try to go to 10GbE if it can, but we know that won’t work on CAT 5e or 6 in general.  If the technology can step down from 10 GbE to one or more intermediate rates it still solves the problem of delivering substantially more than 1GbE on existing cable plant.  And the people interested in Next Generation Enterprise Access firmly believe, based on deployed cable data, that the market size for just this one usage model makes a new spec economically viable.

As often happens in these situations, alliances establish themselves to build momentum to influence the IEEE to consider their proposal.  In this case, there are now two such groups calling themselves the “NBASE-T Alliance” and the “MGBASE-T Alliance” respectively.  Both are proposing intermediate “step-down” speeds of 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps, but their proposals differ technically.  The way IEEE 803 speed specifications work is that they define the characteristics of a particular rate and the auto-negotiation processes for recognizing that two communicating devices both support that rate.  So in theory, vendors could develop adapters and switches that support just these rates or even just one of them.  However, the first pre-specification device to reach market supporting these rates also supports 10GBASE-T.  Whether other vendors follow that path is yet to be seen.

Here’s where the Ethernet Alliance brings value to the specification development process by helping to define common market requirements that help the parties come to a common spec in the IEEE.  The Ethernet Alliance believes strongly that the market is best served when “Betamax/VHS” debates are resolved to a common, interoperable solution.  The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group, after its Call for Interest (CFI) process, established the Next Generation Enterprise Access BASE-T Study Group.  The Ethernet Alliance is advocating that the IEEE 802.3 develop a common specification to successfully address this emerging market requirement.  As Ethernet just continues to grow and become ever more pervasive in new applications, expect to learn of new advanced variants of this venerable technology.  Usually faster, but sometimes slower.

About the Author

David Fair serves on the board of directors of the Ethernet Alliance.  At Intel, David is responsible for driving demand for Intel’s storage over Ethernet (NAS, iSCSI, & FCoE) and RDMA over Ethernet (iWARP) technologies.  He also serves on the board of directors for the Ethernet Storage Forum of SNIA.

About the Ethernet Alliance

The Ethernet Alliance is a global consortium that includes system and component vendors, industry experts, and university and government professionals who are committed to the continued success and expansion of Ethernet technology. The Ethernet Alliance takes Ethernet standards to market by supporting activities that span from incubation of new Ethernet technologies to interoperability demonstrations and education.

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Vertical Systems: Global Provider Ethernet LEADERBOARD

Orange Business (France), BT Global Services (U.K.), Verizon (U.S.), Colt (U.K.), AT&T (U.S.), Level 3 (U.S.) and NTT (Japan) top the list ofr Vertical Systems Group’s 2014 Global Provider Ethernet LEADERBOARD. Global Providers ranked on the LEADERBOARD each hold a four percent (4%) or higher share of billable retail Ethernet ports at sites outside of their respective home countries.

Other Global Providers offering Ethernet services have shares that are below the LEADERBOARD threshold. The Challenge Tier includes companies with share between 2% and 4% share of this defined market. Seven companies qualify for the year-end 2014 Challenge Tier (Note – in alphabetical order): Cogent (U.S.), Global Cloud Xchange [formerly Reliance Globalcom] (India), SingTel (Singapore), T-Systems (Germany), Tata Communications (India), Telefonica Worldwide (Spain) and Vodafone (U.K.).

“Global providers increased their ‘out of home market’ Ethernet port deployments by 15% in 2014 as enterprises expanded their multinational networks to new locations and upgraded legacy sites with higher speed Ethernet access,” said Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group. “Large enterprises cite service reach and fiber footprint coverage as the top criteria for their global Ethernet purchase decisions.”

The Market Player tier includes all Global Providers with port share below 2%. Companies in the year-end 2014 Market Player tier are as follows (Note – in alphabetical order): Bell Canada (Canada), Bezeq (Israel), CAT Telecom (Thailand), CenturyLink (U.S.), China Telecom (China), China Unicom (China), Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan), Easynet Global Services (U.K.), Eircom (Ireland), Embratel (Brazil), euNetworks (U.K.), Exponential-e (U.K.), Globe (Philippines), GlobeNet (Brazil), GTT (U.S.), Hutchinson Global (Hong Kong), Indosat (Indonesia), Interoute (U.K.), KDDI (Japan), Korea Telecom (Korea), KPN International (Netherlands), Masergy (U.S.), PCCW Global (Hong Kong), PLDT (Philippines), Rogers (Canada), Rostelecom (Russia), Softbank Telecom (Japan), Sparkle (Italy), StarHub (Singapore), Swisscom (Switzerland), Symphony (Thailand), TDC (Denmark), Telecom Italia (Italy), Telecom New Zealand (New Zealand), Telekom Malaysia (Malaysia), Telenor (Norway), TeliaSonera (Sweden), Telin (Indonesia), TelkomSouth Africa (South Africa), TelMex (Mexico), Telstra (Australia), Vector (New Zealand), Virgin Media Business (U.K.), XO (U.S.), Zayo Group (U.S.), and other providers selling Ethernet services outside their home country.

Coriant Intros Pico Packet Optical Transport Platform

Coriant introduced a compact packet optical transport platform optimized for service enablement at the edge of metro networks, including Data Center Interconnect (DCI), flexible business services, mobile backhaul, and SONET/SDH network migration.

The Coriant 7100 Pico Packet Optical Transport Platform, which extends the reach of the Coriant 7100 product family, was designed using the same layer-agnostic switching philosophy. Coriant says its 7100 Pico’s high-density and low-power 2-rack-unit (2RU) design includes an innovative distributed processing architecture that distributes system processing across service modules, significantly reducing upfront costs and improving system reliability. The 7100 Pico also supports both AC and DC power options and the latest service modules from the 7100 product family, providing a cost-efficient foundation for high-value metro edge services.

The 7100 Pico supports all of the latest service modules from the 7100 product family, including the ultra-high density 10G and 100G transponders and muxponders; the Optical Transport Network (OTN) Add/Drop Multiplexer (ADM) on-a-blade; and the high-density, feature-rich packet switching module. Flexible service interface options ensure easy and cost-effective scalability from 1G to 10G to 100G. It can be deployed as a standalone network solution or seamlessly extend service-enabling capabilities to existing networks comprised of the 7100 Nano, 7100 OTS, Coriant mTera Universal Transport Platform, or Coriant hiT 7300 Multi-Haul Transport Platform.

The 7100 Pico can also be deployed as a complementary aggregation device for the Coriant 7090 Packet Transport Platform and the Coriant 8600 Smart Router Series.

“With the continued growth in cloud computing, video-on-demand, and mobile broadband, network operators are facing a dramatic increase in bandwidth demand and highly unpredictable traffic patterns at the network edge,” said Ken Craft, Executive Vice President, Products and Technology, Coriant. “By extending proven packet optical transport flexibility and efficiency to the metro edge, the 7100 Pico helps our customers cost-effectively aggregate and transport diverse traffic and protocols, seamlessly scale to 100G, and dynamically adapt to next-generation service requirements.”

NTT DOCOMO Base Stations Avoid On-Peak Electricity Consumption

NTT DOCOMO is testing a base station with dual power-source control technology that uses more than 95% reduced-impact (solar and off-peak) electricity.

The idea is to avoid the use of on-peak electricity as much as possible. The proto type base station leverages lithium-ion batteries to store excess solar electricity generated during the daytime and off-peak electricity generated during the nighttime. Stored electricity is used as the primary source between dusk—once solar-electricity generation becomes unavailable—and 11pm, when off-peak electricity becomes available.

Bright House Launches 300/15 Broadband Service in Florida

Bright House Networks, a cable operator serving approx. 2.5 million customers in five states, launched a new 300 Mbps broadband service throughout its full Florida service area. Download speeds are up to 300 Mbps and upload speeds are up to 15 Mbps.

"We continually look for ways to provide the best available choices to our customers. Just a few months ago, we increased our maximum bandwidth offering to 150 Mbps, and now we are making available an additional product at 300 Mbps," said Kevin Hyman, executive vice president, Cable Operations, Bright House Networks. "We've opted to make this product available to our entire Florida footprint meaning millions of Floridians will have this choice available to them."

ViaSat Acquires EAI Design for Secure ASIC/FPGA Designs

ViaSat Inc. has the product and technology portfolio of EAI Design Services LLC. in order to expand its capabilities in high-speed, low-power secure space-based ASIC and FPGA microprocessor design.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

EAI Design developed a family of IP cores and stand-alone encryption products for high-speed networking to 100 Gbps that extend boundary protection for data centers and corporate wide area networks. These technologies are implemented in very small, low-power ASICs as well as cost-effective space hardened-by-design ASICs and FPGAs. The staff of EAI Design has joined ViaSat, with founder Emil Isaakian leading the immediate integration of the technologies into ViaSat products, systems, and services.

ViaSat is seeking to deploy 100 Gbps and higher-speed, space-based trusted platforms, particularly for commercial applications.

"In the past couple of years, we've been expanding our cybersecurity portfolio to use the latest networking and cyber sensing technologies, and to support the increasing demand for more bandwidth," said Jerry Goodwin, VP of Secure Network Systems at ViaSat. "We've also been working closely with electric utilities to develop large-scale, distributed cyber sensing architectures to secure the electrical grid and other machine-to-machine projects. These low-power, high-performance security technologies will help us protect data and networks in the evolving internet of everything."

  • In  July 2014, ViaSat acquired a high-rate modem product line and custom spacecraft technologies for earth observation from Gray Labs Inc., a private company based in Georgia. Applications include high-speed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data communications. Financial terms were not disclosed. ViaSat plans to continue to support Gray Labs products and customers with state-of-the-art design from its Duluth, Georgia campus. The former staff of Gray Labs has relocated to ViaSat facilities, and Dr. Jim Gray, former Gray Labs president, has assumed a senior consulting position at ViaSat where he will help expand the capabilities of satellite-to-earth communications for ISR.

Advanced Photonix and Luna Innovations Merger on Track for May

Advanced Photonix and Luna Innovations Incorporated now expect to complete their previously announced merger in May 2015, following regulatory filings and approvals of their respective boards of directors.

Advanced Photonix is a leading supplier of optoelectronic sensors, devices and instruments used by Test and Measurement, Process Control, Medical, Telecommunication and Defense markets. API has three product lines: High-Speed Optical Receiver (HSOR) products are used by the telecommunication market in both telecommunication equipment and in test and measurement equipment utilized in the manufacturing of telecommunication equipment. Optosolutions focuses on enabling manufacturers to measure physical properties, including temperature, particular counting, color, and fluorescence for Medical and Process Control applications. The Terahertz sensor product line is targeted at the industrial Process Control and quality control markets through nondestructive testing and can measure subsurface physical properties.

Luna Innovations is a research company based in Virginia that specializes in areas such as fiber optic testing, fiber optic shape sensing and strain an temperature sensing.

Ooreoo Crosses 100 Million Customer Milestone

Ooredoo has crossed the 100 million mobile customer milestone across its footprint in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

Ooredoo operates in markets with an addressable population of more than 700 million people, and sees strong potential for growth across its footprint.

Its newest market, Myanmar, has a population of around 53 million people and a relatively low mobile penetration rate of 27 percent, according to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology. Within its first month of commercial operations in 2014, Ooredoo reached more than one million customers in the country.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mobile World Congress Topped 93,000 Attendees

This week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona set a new attendance record for the event -- over 93,000 attendees from 200 countries.

The 2015 Mobile World Congress featured more than 2,000 exhibiting companies across 100,000 net square metres of exhibition and hospitality space. More than 3,800 international media and industry analysts attended the event.

“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we are gratified by the record-breaking success we’ve seen this year,” said John Hoffman, CEO, GSMA Ltd.

Blueprint: Catch the Customers While You Can!

by Lars Mansson, Senior Director of Product Management and Strategy at DigitalRoute

The American entertainer Milton Berle once remarked, “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.”  Berle has never been known as a telco BSS visionary, but apply his thinking to the legacy stack and his advice is right on the money. Except, instead of a door, you build an online counting system (for which the door is simply a metaphor).

Why do this? Because the road to commercial opportunity for mobile CSPs today runs through a much-needed new approach to billing strategy.

Software vendors have become fond in recent years of claiming that the inherent complexity of modern telecom services drives a parallel requirement for complexity in the enabling solutions they sell. However, their argument that CSPs must rely on complex software to monetize complex services is false. In fact, unnecessary IT complexity simply traps CSPs into slow, expensive solutions. Thus, while many vendors are trying to lock the door behind their products, the telco would be better off to do what Berle suggests: build a new door.

A quick review of progressive use cases underlines this theory. In reality, the complexity in today’s telco market, such as it is, exists almost entirely on the side of the ledger of the service provider (SP). Software needn’t come into it (something any number of modern use cases proves).

Let’s consider an example: An operator wants to “push” a service package, or bundle, of the sort favored by much of the industry. The exact offering is tailored to the subscriber’s historic usage figures. It provides a mix of voice, data and text that subscribers are known to use. Knowledge of past behavior gives our operator an insight into the sort of service offer to which subscribers are likely to be responsive.

So far, so good. A subscriber accepts the bundle offer, but to differentiate this competitor’s similar offerings, our operator, rather than push for top-ups once various service limits have been met (as is common in saturated markets), decides it would be more valuable to pursue a different sort of upgrade strategy, one that will make the SP stand out from the competition.

Why do this? For one thing, because our operator knows (or at least suspects) that his average customers often have a bit of spare money in their pocket and might be willing to buy something else he has to sell, like a networked movie that could be watched on the subway to work. Plus, our operator knows that his rivals aren’t taking this sort of reactive and creative approach (because, not having listened to Berle, they haven’t built a door to grab the opportunity).

To exploit the potential hidden here, our operator decides he needs to offer his customers a flexible and not a “hard stop bundle/package” service like everyone else. Increased market share and a reduced churn rate are suddenly within reach, but the time has come to get the door building equipment out.

The door is represented by software functionality that executes in a far cleverer way than service-enabling software has in the past. Data usage is smoothed over a time period by capacity/bandwidth control. If usage patterns repeat, then upgrade options may yet come into play, but the operator doesn’t cut off or hard-throttle customers at their consumption limits. Instead, the SP makes sure customers get a ration of connectivity spread over the whole month: a theoretical win-win for all parties.

The operator also takes advantage of the opportunity to apply a “floating bundle” concept.  Here, if the subscriber’s voice minutes are nearly consumed but data in the package is largely untouched, the SMS will offer the subscriber either the chance to buy more voice minutes or to move unused data consumption balances to the voice product. The text reads, “We can convert 1 GB of unused data to 2 hours of national calls, answer YES.”

If this sounds complicated—and most BSS vendors would like you to believe it is—then the good news is that it isn’t. The new door is, in fact, amazingly simple to use. It has a handle. It opens. It shuts. It handles a lot of traffic quickly. And in relative terms, it’s cheap. In fact, this door is the sort of customer-responsive, creative service offering that can be enabled by offloading rather than expensively augmenting the already costly BSS legacy stack.

Everything described above can be achieved through what is becoming known as a Usage Management (Service Control) BSS strategy that offloads thick traditional BSS in favor of smart, agile and lean implementations.

If we’re being literal, Usage Management can best be thought of as pre-configured use cases (rather than a metaphorical door). It manifests itself in the IT stack as a service delivery and execution engine designed to support CSPs where usage bundles form the core of a competitive strategy. The approach, which enables an outcome widely identified as “lean billing” is based around three central features:

  • Easy configuration allows pricing models to quickly be monetized and managed in simple buckets, bypassing costly changes to, or even direct involvement with, legacy rating and billing.
  • Through total subscriber control via a holistic data layer that is system- and silo-agnostic, a better end-user experience is delivered to the customer.
  • Quicker times to market due to both the inherent configurability of the approach itself and the ability to offload unwieldy BSS components otherwise relied on within the execution stack.

There are, of course, times where complex BSS functionality is required to support complex services. One obvious example is with enterprise billing. Such offerings are very much the exception rather than the billing rule. More commonly, far more than half of regularly accessed telecom services can be monetized simply by taking advantage of a “lean” BSS approach. The only losers when this happens are the software vendors who encourage their customers to slam the door of potential in their own faces! This, as we all now know, is neither wise nor necessary.

About the Author
Lars Mansson is DigitalRoute’s senior director of product management and strategy. In this role, he is the owner of the company's product portfolio, go-to-market and the long-term development of its products & solutions as well as its product strategy, roadmap and thought leadership. Lars has a background in technical pre sales and was previously a system architect and technical coordinator for mediation systems at Tele2 in Sweden.

About DigitalRoute

DigitalRoute has been providing new approaches to enterprise data management since 1999. Its software platform offers high throughput and provides a unique degree of user configurability, processing all usage and statistical data extracted from the networks, including both billable and non-billable events. Over 300 leading companies worldwide actively use DigitalRoute technology to meet their data management needs, including a number of OEM partners who use our platform as a central part of their own offerings. DigitalRoute is built on the core values of Expertise, Open- Mindedness and Commitment. DigitalRoute is a venture-backed, privately held company with a turnover of 30m EUR in 2013 and a record of profitability since 2005. With close to 200 employees, the company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with regional offices in Gothenburg, Atlanta, and Kuala Lumpur.

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Qualcomm Adds LTE modes to Snapdragon Automotive Set

Qualcomm has added two LTE modems to its Snapdragon Automotive Solutions portfolio.

The Snapdragon X12 LTE modem (9x40) is designed to enable auto manufacturers to develop next-generation systems with advanced telematics and connected infotainment features while supporting greater coverage at download speeds up to Category 10 (up to 450 Mbps in the downlink and 100 Mbps in the uplink). The Snapdragon X5 LTE modem (9x28) is designed to enable automakers to broadly deploy LTE in all cars at download speeds up to Category 4 (up to 150 Mbps in the downlink and 50 Mbps in the uplink).

In addition to LTE, both modems support all major 3G/2G cellular standards and offer on-chip integration of global position (GNSS) support for all major constellation.  They also feature a 1 GHz processor with Linux and built-in software for key global regulatory mandates like EU eCall and ERA Glonass. They can be matched with a companion Qualcomm VIVE QCA65x4 chipset with Wi-Fi/BT to support consumer features like Wi-Fi 802.11ac hotspots and safety applications like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) with a seamless combination of Wi-Fi, DSRC and LTE.

“The effect of LTE on connected telematics and infotainment inside the car is transformational, rivaling the one from feature phones to smartphones,” added Singh. “Ubiquitous connectivity to cars is enabling industries like automotive, wireless operators, and insurance to come together in unlocking value for consumers. In addition, the cars of tomorrow will not only inform and entertain the consumer, but also communicate with their environment to make driving safer, which is accomplished through system level integration across infotainment, telematics and connectivity subsystems of the vehicle. The X12 and X5 are designed with this integration as a requirement, so we can support the vision of getting these capabilities into all cars.”

Crehan: Sales of Branded Data Center Switches Continue to Grow

Customer deployments of branded data center Ethernet switches grew ten percent in 2014, a slight increase over the 2013 growth rate, despite an increase in white box switch offerings, according to the most recent data center switch report from Crehan Research Inc.

 Crehan’s report further shows that branded Ethernet switch shipments in the high-speed top-of-rack, or fixed, segment – where white box switch offerings are most prevalent – increased by almost 40% in 2014 (see accompanying chart).

“Most of the white box and ODM-direct switch market volume is still driven by a few of the very large, hyper-scale cloud service providers, and its growth has remained largely a function of these few service providers building out their data center networks," said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research. "Over the past few years, the branded data center switch vendors have really narrowed the gap on the perceived advantages of white box switches," he said. “Although it varies by vendor, this has included lowering prices significantly, incorporation of more merchant silicon, offering more programmability and SDN features, disaggregation of hardware and software, and bringing open compute and networking designs to market."

Some highlights from Crehan's report:

  • 40 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) data center switch shipments more than tripled, while revenues more than doubled.
  • 10GBASE-T data center switching rapidly expanded in 2014, exiting the year with an annual run rate of over two million ports.
  • Despite steep price declines in some of the individual data center Ethernet switch segments, overall market pricing remained relatively stable in 2014 due to greater adoption of higher-speed switches, which carry a price premium.
  • The Fibre Channel switch market returned to revenue growth in 2014, as higher average selling prices more than offset a slight annual shipment decline.

UNH-IOL Hosts Open Networking Component Interoperability Plugfest

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) hosted the first interoperability plugfest for open networking last month to validate the multi-vendor compatibility of optical transceivers and cables with bare-metal open switches running Networking Operating Systems (NOS) software.

"This is a very important milestone in the open networking movement" said Bob Thurston, Director of Integrated Engineering from Fidelity Investments. "Customers will soon be able to purchase open networking equipment with confidence that entire solutions can be assembled and will operate as expected."

Qualcomm Intros Ultrasonic Fingerprint Authentication

Qualcomm is introducing 3D fingerprint authentication that uses ultrasonic technology to directly penetrate the outer layers of skin, detecting three-dimensional details and unique fingerprint characteristics, including fingerprint ridges and sweat pores. Compared to existing capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies the company said it is able to achieve government-grade biometric solutions because the scan will be extremely difficult to spoof.

QTI’s ultrasonic fingerprint technology has a number of distinct advantages over capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies, including the ability to scan through a smartphone cover that is made of glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics.

“Mobile devices increasingly store our most valuable and sensitive information, while passwords alone do not provide the protection consumers deserve,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, QTI. “Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology’s unique use of ultrasonic technology revolutionizes biometrics from 2D to 3D, allowing for greater accuracy, privacy and stronger authentication. We are very proud to bring the mobile industry’s first ultrasonic-based biometric authentication technology to mobile device manufacturers and their customers, who will benefit from the improved and differentiated user experience.”

Ciena Posts Revenue of $529.2 Million

Ciena reported revenue of $$529.2 million for its fiscal first quarter 2015.  This compares with $533.7 million for the fiscal first quarter 2014.

Ciena's net loss (GAAP) for the fiscal first quarter 2015 was $(18.8) million, or $(0.17) per diluted common share, which compares to a GAAP net loss of $(15.9) million, or $(0.15) per diluted common share, for the fiscal first quarter 2014.

“Our first quarter performance is highlighted by continued customer diversification, an expanding portfolio, and strong profitability. While order timing and foreign exchange headwinds impacted revenue in the quarter, we delivered improved gross margin and excellent operating profit," said Gary B. Smith, president and CEO of Ciena.

Ericsson and Telefónica Extend NFV Research Pact

Ericsson and Telefónica renewed a joint research pact originally made in 2013 to focuses on SDN and NFV.

The two companies have set up of a multi-vendor cloud environment to test Ericsson virtualized network functions (VNFs) on top of a cloud infrastructure, including the possibility of using Ericsson VNF Orchestrator.  A key long-term ambition for both companies is also to work together on the operational model definition for virtualization in telecommunications, IT and B2B.

"The co-operation that we entered into with Ericsson in 2013 has been very fruitful, and we are excited to continue the great work we have done together and begin to implement some of our findings. At Telefónica, we are convinced that network virtualization will help to improve TCO efficiency and improve our service agility."

Ericsson and KT Sign 5G Research MoU

At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson and KT agreed to collaborate in 5G network architecture, small cells and heterogeneous networks.

"5G will be a key component in the industry's movement toward the Networked Society. KT is an early driver of technology, and we believe that the collaboration with KT will provide benefits to users and to industries. With ultra-high bit rates of more than 10 Gbps, we will deliver radio network capability of more than 1,000 times today's LTE networks," stated Thomas Norén, Vice President and Head of Radio Product Management, Ericsson.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5G PPP Aims to Put Europe back in Mobile Driving Seat

5G PPP, which is a public-private partnership between the European Commission and European industry and research community, outlined a vision to put Europe "back in the driving seat" mobile technology development.  The aim is to leverage 5G to create a single digital economy that connects people, things and services based on a plethora of innovation unseen before at such scale.

The 5G PPP alliance sees this next mobile technology cycle as more than an evolution of mobile broadband technology. It sees 5G as an enabler supporting all economic sectors as well as ever-growing consumer demand for new services. This is an opportunity for the European ICT sector, which contributes about 5% to Europe’s GDP, to expand its leadership position globally.

 The European Commission, with the approval of the European Parliament, has committed €700 million of public funds to support 5G PPP activities from 2014 to 2020.

At this week's Mobile World Congress, five EU-funded research projects are being showcased in areas such as new waveforms, cell densification, usage of spectrum above 6GHz and spectrum optimization.

Marvell Unveils 5-mode 4G LTE Release 10 Modem

Marvell unveiled a 5-mode 4G LTE Release 10 modem chipset supporting Carrier Aggregation.

The Marvell ARMADA Mobile PXA1826 extends the company's leadership in 64-bit quad-core and octa-core 4G LTE mobile processors for global markets.

Key features include:

  • Multi-mode LTE R10 CAT7 supporting TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA and GSM
  • Integrated Cortex A7, up to 1.2GHz
  • Support CSFB and VoLTE voice services
  • Includes Marvell’s LTE R10 RF transceiver

“I am very pleased to launch our industry-leading 5-mode 4G LTE Release 10 modem with carrier aggregation. Our leadership in 4G LTE technology and close collaboration with top global operators and tier-one OEMs have significantly accelerated the mass deployment of 4G LTE in China and around the world,” said Weili Dai, President and Co-Founder of Marvell. “Carrier aggregation is an important technology to increase capacity and enable new features in cellular communication.”

Intel Shows Low-Cost Atom Chipset, LTE-A Modem, Mobile Innovations

Intel unveiled several new mobile platforms at Mobile World Congress, including the company's new low-cost system-on-chip (SoC) for phones, phablets and tablets and a global LTE solution.

The Intel Atom x3 processor series (formerly code-named "SoFIA") is Intel's first integrated communications platform for entry and value devices.  It combines 64-bit multi-core Intel Atom processors together with 3G or 4G LTE connectivity.  The SoC combines the applications processor, image sensor processor, graphics, audio, connectivity and power management components in a single system chipset.

The rollout includes the Intel Atom x5 and x7 processor series (formally code-named "Cherry Trail") -- the first 14nm Intel Atom SoCs. These offer 64-bit support for Windows and Android, Intel Gen 8 graphics, and an option to pair with next-generation LTE Advanced connectivity.

Intel's third-generation LTE modem will support LTE Advanced Category 10 service. It offers 3x carrier aggregation and download speeds up to 450 Mbps. Intel also cited improvements in size and power efficiency.  At Mobile World Congress, the company also demonstrated a pre-5G concept system that combines LTE with 802.11ad to deliver speeds of more than 1 Gbps using Intel technology end-to-end.

Some other mobile innovations from Intel include "RealSense" depth sensing technology, wireless charging and "True Key" by Intel Security.

In addition, Intel highlighted joint efforts with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Huawei to address the demand for new telecommunications, cloud and data center services, improve network efficiencies, and accelerate the industry's move toward a software-defined infrastructure.