Wednesday, April 26, 2017

FCC Chairman Moves to Reverse Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with his fellow commissioners at the FCC aimed at reversing the Title II "Net Neutrality" rules adopted in 2015.

In a published speech, Pai described the Title II rules as a regulatory mistake that slowed down telecom infrastructure spending in the United States by 5.6% percent, or $3.6 billion, between 2014 and 2016 for just the top 12 Internet service providers. He said the rules were not needed in 2015 because the Internet "was not broken" and that these 1930s era regulations were constraining the further rollouts of new infrastructure.

Key elements of Pai's proposal include (1) return the classification of broadband service from a Title II telecommunications service to a Title I information service (2) eliminate the so-called Internet conduct standard (3) seeks comment on how the FCC approach the so-called bright-line rules adopted in 2015.

The FCC will vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its meeting in May.

FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  
A Standard for Future Conduct:  the Order establishes that ISPs cannot “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” the ability of consumers to select, access, and use the lawful content, applications, services, or devices of their choosing; or of edge providers to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to consumers.  The FCC will have authority to address questionable practices on a case-by-case basis, and will provide guidance in the form of factors on how the Commission will apply the standard in practice.

Greater Transparency:  the Order requires that broadband providers disclose, in a
consistent format, promotional rates, fees and surcharges and data caps. Disclosures must also include packet loss as a measure of network performance, and provide notice of network management practices that can affect service.  To further consider the concerns of small ISPs, the Order adopts a temporary exemption from the transparency enhancements for fixed and mobile providers with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, and delegates authority to the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to determine whether to retain the exception and, if so, at what level.

Reasonable Network Management:    For the purposes of the rules, other than paid prioritization, an ISP may engage in reasonable network management. The FCC's standard takes account of the particular engineering attributes of the technology involved—whether it be fiber, DSL, cable, unlicensed Wi-Fi, mobile, or another network medium. However, the network practice must be primarily used for and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management—and not business—purpose.

Broad Protection
Some data services do not go over the public Internet, and therefore are not “broadband Internet access” services (VoIP from a cable system is an example, as is a dedicated heart-monitoring service). The Order ensures that these services do not undermine the effectiveness of the Open Internet rules. Moreover, all broadband providers’ transparency disclosures will continue to cover any offering of such non-Internet access data services—ensuring that the public and the Commission can keep a close eye on any tactics that could undermine the Open Internet rules.

Interconnection: the FCC address issue that may arise in the exchange of traffic between mass-market broadband providers and other networks and services. Under the authority provided by the Order, the Commission can hear complaints and take appropriate enforcement action if it determines the interconnection activities of ISPs are not just and reasonable.

Legal Authority: the order relies on multiple sources of authority including both Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  At the same time, the Order refrains – or forbears – from enforcing 27 provisions of Title II and over 700 associated regulations that are not relevant to modern broadband service. 

Nokia Reports Flat Q1 Revenue of EUR 5.4 Billion

Nokia reported Q1 2017 sales of EUR 5.4bn, down slightly from EUR 5.5bn in Q1 2016. Non-IFRS diluted EPS in Q1 2017 was EUR 0.03 (EUR 0.03 in Q1 2016). Reported diluted EPS in Q1 2017 of negative EUR 0.08 (negative EUR 0.11 in Q1 2016).

For Nokia's Networks business there was a 6% year-on-year net sales decrease in Q1 2017, which the company attributed primarily due to IP/Optical Networks and Fixed Networks, with approximately flat net sales in Mobile Networks and Applications & Analytics. The company noted strong Q1 2017 gross margin of 39.5% and solid operating margin of 6.6%, supported by continued focus on operational excellence, with particularly strong performance in Mobile Networks.

Nokia Technologies recorded a 25% year-on-year net sales increase in Q1 2017, primarily due to higher patent and brand licensing income and the acquisition of Withings, partially offset by the absence of licensing income related to certain expired agreements.

"Nokia's first quarter 2017 results demonstrated our improving business momentum, even if some challenges remain. We slowed the rate of topline decline and generated healthy orders in what is typically a seasonally weak quarter for us. We also continued to see expansion of cross-selling across our full portfolio, delivered excellent gross margins and improved group-level profitability," stated Rajeev Suri, Nokia's President and CEO.

"The power of our end-to-end portfolio was again evident in our first quarter results. We saw encouraging stabilization in Mobile Networks topline, our strategy to build a strong software business gained momentum in Applications & Analytics, and Nokia Technologies saw significant year-on-year improvement in sales. This progress offset relative weakness in Fixed Networks and IP/Optical Networks, and allowed us to maintain Networks' strong gross margin - which was among the strongest Networks has ever delivered for a Q1."

"Mobile Networks was clearly the highlight of the quarter. A combination of robust market interest in our advanced LTE solutions, including closing the quarter with 145 4.5G customers, and ongoing cost discipline allowed us to get closer to stabilizing our topline while delivering improved profitability."

AT&T to launch 5G Evolution in 20 Markets

AT&T announced that as part of its 5G Evolution program it plans to begin offering higher speed services for wireless customers with the latest devices in over 20 major metro areas by the end of the year.

The new wireless capability is now available in select areas of Austin, where AT&T wireless customers with a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ are able to access faster 5G Evolution Internet speeds. The new higher speed service is due to be expanded to Indianapolis in the summer, with a launch in additional markets to be announced over the coming months, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco.

AT&T's 5G Evolution program will enable faster wireless Internet speeds for customers, and in Austin delivers around twice the download speed, as well as lower latency, of the existing 4G LTE network. The enhanced service is available to customers on most data plans that have a Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ device. AT&T noted that by the end of 2017 it expects to offer a range of user devices able to take advantage of the 5G Evolution program.

As part of the 5G Evolution program, AT&T is investing in its wireless network to add small cells and implementing technology upgrades including carrier aggregation, 4 x 4 MIMO and 256QAM.

  • In mid-March AT&T announced that following the decision by the 3GPP wireless standards body to accelerate certain elements of the 5G new radio (NR) development program, it expected to launch standards-based mobile 5G services to consumers by late 2018.

    At that time, AT&T stated that it was conducting in 5G trials in a number of cities and AT&T Lab locations, including the first 5G fixed wireless business customer trial in Austin launched in 2016. AT&T added that in April it planned to launch a second trial in Austin for the delivery of DIRECTV NOW and access new entertainment and enhanced broadband services for residential and SMB customers.
  • In February, AT&T noted that the forthcoming trial in Austin would utilise Ericsson's 5G RAN technology and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform, as well as leveraging the resources and capabilities of its 2 new 5G testbeds in Austin, where it was exploring the use of 28 GHz, 39 GHz and sub-6 GHz frequency bands. It also noted that working with Nokia it had delivered DIRECTV NOW over a fixed wireless 5G connection using 39 GHz mmWave technology.

Bridge Alliance to deploy Ericsson Unified Delivery Network in APAC

Ericsson announced a partnership with the Bridge Alliance, a group of 34 mobile operators in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa serving a total of over 800 million customers, under which it will deploy its Unified Delivery Network (UDN) content delivery network solution across 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

The Bridge Alliance is the leading alliance of mobile operators in the Asia Pacific and MEA regions, and the agreement calls for Ericsson to deploy the UDN global content delivery network (CDN) platform, which provides content providers worldwide with connectivity to the last mile reach of network operators.

The partnership is designed to enhance collaboration between content providers and Bridge Alliance mobile carrier members and enable them to play a greater role in the content delivery value chain. Ericsson's advanced content distribution platform provides last mile network access to help enable the delivery of quality video and web content into caches located closer to end users and so improve the user experience.

Earlier this year, Bridge Alliance and SoftBank announced they had renewed their partnership to continue collaborating in the areas of enterprise mobility services, machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT). In October 2016, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) Group renewed its partnership with the Bridge Alliance for enterprise services covering Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.

In February of last year, Ericsson, the Global M2M Association (GMA), the Bridge Alliance and Samsung demonstrated multi-domestic capabilities designed to enable new business models for IoT. The solution targeted global enterprises seeking to securely deploy connected devices and services with adherence to local terms and conditions. The collaboration specifically involved Ericsson's Device Connection Platform (DCP) and the Samsung KNOX enterprise billing solution.

The Bridge Alliance has 34 members with an overall 800 million-plus customers that aims to facilitate roaming services and support multi-market enterprise and IoT solutions.

Bridge Alliance members include: Airtel (India, Sri Lanka and subsidiaries in Africa), AIS (Thailand), CSL Mobile (Hong Kong), CTM (Macau), Globe Telecom (Philippines), Maxis (Malaysia), MobiFone (Vietnam), Optus (Australia), Singtel (Singapore), SK Telecom (S Korea), STC (Saudi Arabia), SoftBank (Japan), Taiwan Mobile, Telkomcel (Timor-Leste and Indonesia), Turk Telekom and Viva (Bahrain and Kuwait). Alliance partners include China Unicom, Freemove and Global M2M Association

Orange Teams with Facebook on Start-up Accelerator

Global telco Orange announced that, as a member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and together with Facebook, it is launching the Orange Fab France Telecom Track accelerator, designed to support start-ups focused on network infrastructure development.

Through the initiative, selected start-ups will be mentored by Orange and provided with access to its global resources, as well as support from TIP Ecosystem Accelerator Centres (TEAC) and Facebook.

As part of the initiative, Orange is working with TIP and Facebook to identify and support start-ups focused on network infrastructure technology with the launch of the new Telecom Track as part of its Orange Fab accelerator program in France. The partnership will aim to identify the best innovations and talent within the sector and provide start-ups with support and guidance from experts at Orange, TIP and Facebook, as well as facilitate collaboration and investment opportunities.

The project will be managed through Orange Fab France, Orange's established accelerator program for start-ups located at the Orange Gardens campus in Paris that is dedicated to R&D. The program also has the support of Orange Digital Ventures. By engaging with experts from Orange and its partners, start-ups will be provided with support in tackling network-related issues such as network management and access technologies.

Start-ups selected for the program will receive the benefits offered as part of the existing Orange Fab program, including the opportunity to participate in dedicated workshops, mentoring sessions with specialists and an optional Euro 15,000 in funding. They will also be provided with work space at the Orange Gardens, where the company's R&D teams are based. Start-ups will also have access to experts from the TIP community, TEAC and Facebook.

Orange has launched a call for projects to French start-ups that runs until May 14th; following evaluation of submissions, start-ups will be selected to join the acceleration program and can present at a launch event planned for June that will attended by Orange, TIP and Facebook executives, as well as partners and venture capitalists.

Coriant Backs ONAP Project

Coriant announced its support for the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project to help accelerate industry adoption of standards-based Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) capabilities that orchestrate and automate service delivery in cloud-centric, SDN-controlled networks.

ONAP, which was recently formed through the merger of open source ECOMP and Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) is focused on creating a harmonized and comprehensive framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual network functions that will enable software, network, IT, and cloud providers and developers to rapidly create new services. The ONAP Project includes participation by prominent networking suppliers and industry-leading service providers from around the world.

“As a pioneer in SDN-enabled solutions for multi-layer transport networks, we look forward to collaborating closely with other ONAP members to help our customers leverage SDN automation and NFV control for faster, more efficient, and more flexible service delivery,” said Uwe Fischer, Executive Vice President, R&D and PLM, and CTO, Coriant. “Open networks and SDN/NFV-enabled automation are key pillars of the Coriant Hyperscale Carrier Architecture, and contributions by the ONAP Project will strengthen the value proposition of this innovative approach while enhancing Coriant’s comprehensive suite of open, multi-layer SDN solutions.”

Coriant noted that its Hyperscale Carrier Architecture (HCA) brings together the best of telecom and the best of data center technologies and open network design principles in a unified go-forward architecture optimized for 5G, IoT, and the unabated surge of Internet video traffic. Powered by the Coriant Transcend Software Suite, which includes standards-based multi-layer SDN control and NMS solutions, the HCA is an open, holistic architecture that encompasses transport, packet, and routing end-to-end from subscriber access all the way to the peering point.

Enea unveils NFV platform for Virtualisation of Network Edge

Stockholm-based Enea, a supplier of network software platforms, announced the introduction of Enea NFV Core, a high performance, deployment-ready NFV software platform designed to enable central office virtualisation at the network edge.

Enea's new NFV Core software is designed to allow network operators, service providers and telecom and network equipment vendors to develop solutions enabling a virtualised network edge that can deliver lower costs and increased flexibility in creating new services.

Enea noted that while the data centre/cloud side of NFV software is maturing and becoming commoditised, in the base station and customer premise equipment segment there are currently few independent software vendors with viable offerings. In addition, there is significant potential for differentiation as the use cases differ for each deployment scenario.

Enea aims to address typical distributed NFV use cases such as virtual CPE (vCPE), and the new Enea NFV Core platform targets central office applications. The solution provides multi-architecture support that enables virtualised network functions (VNF) to execute on both Intel x86 and ARM commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.

Enea NFV Core is based on the open technology standards OPNFV and OpenStack, and so can benefit from the speed of innovation provided by the open source community. However, Enea noted that unlike open source offerings NFV Core is hardened and deployment-ready, which speeds development time.

The Enea NFV Core software has been configured, enhanced and optimised to deliver the performance and availability required for edge use cases, and has been integrated, tested and validated.

At MWC 2017, Enea partnered with Lanner Electronics to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of a commercial NFV solution for vCPE built on OPNFV and able to run on x86 and ARM-based COTS hardware. The PoC involved Enea running its network virtualisation software on a central office server that sets up and initiates a video call between two tablets, one connected to an x86-based Lanner device, and one connected to an ARM-based device.

ECI Apollo Selected for Lepida Regional Network in Italy

ECI, a global provider of Elastic Network solutions, announced that it has been selected to upgrade Lepida SpA's regional broadband network in northern Italy.

Lepida, based in Bologna, is a communications provider that was established in 2007 by the Emilia-Romagna regional government to design, implement and manage broadband infrastructures for the public administrations and public entities in the region.

ECI has been selected to provide a turnkey, end-to-end, 10/100/200 Gbit/s regional WDM network featuring 96 channel, tunable flex grid and high-capacity OTN cross-connect functionality in the main network PoPs, based on its Apollo packet-optical solution.

ECI noted that its solution met the technical requirements of Lepida's tailored approach, while the service provider will also be able to select from a range of pay-as-you grow options to expand network capacity and capabilities in the future.

ECI's Apollo platform provides transparent and flexible DWDM transport for a range of customer requirements. The platform combines low latency with software configurable, colourless, directionless and gridless optical routing, OTN switching and grooming and is designed to enable efficient and fully programmable networking.

In addition, ECI's planning tools and management platforms can provide Lepida with independence when planning and provisioning its network in the future. ECI also offer an evolution path across its platforms enabling customers to prepare for the transition to SDN technology.

Lepida operates a network linking local administrations in Emilia-Romagna that includes 2.700 km of infrastructure and 64,000 km of fibre with more than 720 points of access. The NGN network supports minimum 2 Gbit/s bandwidth at fibre points with backbone connectivity to MIX Milan, AmsIX Amsterdam, DECIX in  Frankfurt, LINX in London, FRANCEIX in Paris, LUCIX in Luxemburg, VSIX in Padoa, TOPIX in Turin and SIX in the U.S.

NTT Com Acquires International LD License in India

NTT Communications (NTT Com) announced that it recently acquired a Virtual Network Operator - International Long Distance (VNO-ILD) license in India through its local affiliate NTT Communications India Network Services (NTTCINS).

The new license for India will enable NTT Com to add Arcstar Universal One International Network Services to its existing portfolio of services in India. At present, in India NTT Com provides national long distance (NLD) network services through affiliate NTTCINS, as well as colocation, managed hosting, cloud and ICT management services via affiliate company Netmagic.

Following the award of the virtual network operator license, from July of this year NTT Com plans to leverage its portfolio of ICT solutions to help enterprise customers build ICT environments to support their business operations in India. NTT Com will specifically offer ICT solutions including WAN, LAN, data centre and associated value added services to Indian businesses and multinational corporations.

In addition, NTT Com plans to enhance its network services via the addition of Internet access options and to improve service quality through expanded relationships with local carriers.

NTTCINS launched operations in India in 2003 and has established nodes in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi in cooperation with local carrier Tata Communications. The operator operates a backbone network with diverse routes and has offices in major cities across India.

Netmagic, based in Mumbai, is a major managed hosting and cloud service provider in India, with 9 carrier-neutral data centres. The company claims more than 2,000 enterprises customers worldwide. Netmagic also delivers remote infrastructure management (RIM) services to enterprise customers globally, including NTT Com customers in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

AT&T Q1 Revenue Dips to $39.4 Billion

AT&T reported Q1 revenues of $39.4 billion versus $40.5 billion in the year-ago quarter. The company cited record-low equipment sales in wireless for the revenue dip, but said it recorded its best-ever first-quarter postpaid phone churn of 0.90%

Compared with results for the first quarter of 2016, operating expenses were $32.5 billion versus $33.4 billion; operating income was $6.9 billion versus $7.1 billion; and operating income margin was 17.4% versus 17.6%.

“In a very competitive quarter, we continued to execute on our goals of driving efficiencies in our business while growing adjusted earnings per share. But just as important, the strategic moves we’ve made over the last few months to expand our wireless capacity and fortify our 5G leadership will be felt for years to come,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO. “FirstNet gives us access to 20 megahertz of valuable, low-band spectrum and allows us to deploy our spectrum assets more efficiently as we build a high-quality, mobile broadband network for our first responders. And our planned acquisitions of Fiber Tower and Straight Path will add valuable millimeter wave spectrum assets to our 5G tool kit as we lead the way to the next generation of wireless technology.”

Here are some highlights from AT&T Q1 financial report:

  • Total revenues from Consumer Mobility customers totaled $7.7 billion, down 7.1% versus the year-earlier quarter, reflecting fewer phone sales and upgrades and lower postpaid service revenues mostly due to migrations to business plans. In the quarter, Consumer Mobility lost 353,000 total subscribers with 282,000 prepaid and 19,000 connected device net adds partially offsetting a loss of 66,000 postpaid and 588,000 reseller subscribers. 
  • Total first-quarter revenues from business customers were $16.8 billion, down 4.3% versus the year-earlier quarter due to declines in legacy wireline services and fewer wireless equipment upgrades. Strategic business services, the next-generation wireline services, including VPNs, Ethernet, cloud, hosting, IP conferencing, voice over IP, dedicated internet, IP broadband and security services, grew by $223 million, or 8.1%, versus the year-earlier quarter. These services represent 40% of total business wireline revenues and an annualized revenue stream of nearly $12 billion. Growth in strategic business services helped offset a decline of $743 million in legacy services in the quarter.
  • At the end of the first quarter, AT&T had more than 82 million business wireless subscribers.
  • AT&T Entertainment Group (including DirecTV) total revenues were $12.6 billion, generally flat versus the year-earlier quarter. The Entertainment Group had a net gain of 242,000 IP broadband subscribers in the first quarter with DSL losses of 127,000, for total broadband subscriber growth of 115,000. IP broadband subscribers at the end of the quarter totaled 13.1 million.

Ericsson's Quarterly Sales Drop by 11%

Ericsson reported Q1 2017 sales of 46.4 billion, down by -11% compared to year earlier due to lower mobile infrastructure investments in certain markets,lower IPR licensing revenues and the renewed managed services contract with reduced scope in North America. Operating income was SEK -12.3 b., after provisions, write-downs and restructuring charges of SEK -13.4 b. Excluding these items the operating income amounted to SEK 1.1 b.

"Our performance in the first quarter continued to be unsatisfactory," stated Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm. "The immediate priority is to improve profitability while also taking action to revitalize technology and market leadership...We are not satisfied with the cost structure of the company and the existing cost and efficiency program is not yielding sufficient results. Based on current profitability, we will intensify our efforts to reduce cost with focus on structural changes to generate lasting efficiency gains and increase cost competitiveness. Our target is to surpass previous ambitions. However, we need to increase investment in certain core areas to develop our product portfolio, which can temporarily increase cost levels."

Some highlights:

  • Despite lower sales, Networks delivered a solid result. The new Ericsson Radio System platform contributed to improving profitability and stabilizing the market share position, after several years of decline.
  • The concerning developments in IT & Cloud continued with significantly increased losses. 
  • Ericsson is seeking alternatives for its IT cloud infrastructure hardware business.
  • The accelerated losses in Media were caused by a faster than anticipated decline in legacy product sales, not offset by growth in the new portfolio. Ericsson is exploring strategic opportunities for Media.

Juniper's Quarterly Sales Jump by 11%

Juniper Networks reported Q1 2017 net revenues of $1,221.0 million, an increase of 11% year-over-year and a decrease of 12% sequentially. GAAP operating margin for the first quarter of 2017 was 12.8%, a decrease from 13.5% in the first quarter of 2016, and a decrease from 20.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Juniper posted GAAP net income of $108.8 million, an increase of 19% year-over-year, and a decrease of 42% sequentially. GAAP diluted earnings per share for the first quarter of 2017 was $0.28.

"We had a positive start to 2017, delivering strong year-over year revenue and earnings growth," said Rami Rahim, chief executive officer at Juniper Networks. "I am proud of the strength of our product and solution portfolios, pleased with the diversification of our customer base, and confident in our ability to execute to our strategy. We continue to drive strong momentum with cloud solutions across our key verticals."

Gigamon Delivers Security Intelligence at 10/40/100G

Gigamon introduced its GigaVUE-HC3, a high-performance appliance to enable pervasive visibility and security intelligence at scale in 10Gb, 40Gb and 100Gb networks.

The new GigaVUE-HC3 extends Gigamon's Visibility Platform and GigaSMART technologies with higher compute and throughput performance, offering:

  • A total of 800Gbps of GigaSMART traffic intelligence per node, scaling to 25Tbps in clustered configurations
  • Up to 3.2Tbps of processing per node that scales to over 100Tbps per cluster.

“Organizations that deal with large volumes of network traffic are increasingly concerned about the attack surface posed by high-speed, distributed infrastructure and the ensuing challenges created for network security teams,” said Ananda Rajagopal, vice president of products at Gigamon. “Ensuring visibility and control in such environments is not just about tapping network traffic but also rapidly finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. The GigaVUE-HC3 is the first platform in the industry to provide intelligent visibility at scale.”

GigaVUE-HC3 will be generally available in May 2017.

Russia's MTS and Ericsson Demo 25G in 5G testing

MTS, a major telco in Russia and the CIS serving over 100 million subscribers, and Ericsson announced that during trials of 5G technology they achieved claimed record data transmission rates of up to 25 Gbit/s using a portable prototype of a smartphone, representing an advance on previous 5G trials that involved only stationary devices.

The testing was conducted by Ericsson and MTS at the Opening Arena stadium in Moscow, where a base station operating in the range of 14.5 to 15.3 GHz transmitted a signal to a portable prototype of a subscriber' device at the speeds of up to 25 Gbit/s. During the trials, MTS and Ericsson tested 5G technology in a range of scenarios requiring high bandwidth and low latency, such as 4K video streaming, virtual reality services and remote robot control over a mobile network.

The latest trials featured technologies including:

1.         Multi-user and massive MIMO with an array of transmit-receive antennas, including serving multiple subscribers in one sector of a cell over the same frequency band.

2.         Beam tracking, designed to provide user devices with a stable, reliable connection and the optimum throughput performance when on the move.

3.         Dynamic TDD, which enhances the data transfer rate and efficiency of wireless network resource utilisation by dynamically redistributing the bandwidth when transmitting traffic in the downlink and upstream channels.

Ericsson noted that the trials were conducted as part of its strategic partnership with MTS established in December 2015. Under the agreement, Ericsson and MTS planned to cooperate on 5G R&D in Russia, encompassing areas including spectrum studies of the next generation network and implementation of a test system.

Subsequently, in June 2016 the companies tested LTE-U (LTE-Unlicensed), demonstrating the aggregation of two frequency bands, 10 MHz in the 1800 MHz band of LTE and 20 MHz in the unlicensed 5 GHz band at WiFi access points, demonstrating data rates of 200 Mbit/s.

Also in June last year, the companies signed a 3 year agreement for the supply of software for the modernisation of the MTS network, to include implementing IoT technology and testing extended GSM technology (EC-GSM-IoT).

Windstream Intros Business Continuity Solution

Windstream, a major provider of advanced network communications, announced the availability of a new business continuity solution, Diverse Connect, designed to ensure reliable connectivity for enterprises that rely on the cloud to support mission-critical applications.

Windstream's Diverse Connect is designed to keep a customer's network endpoints connected and ensure the performance of business functions including in the event of a major network issue. Diverse Connect is offered with a 99.999% (5-9s) uptime SLA that covers services from end-to-end, including over the last mile from Windstream's provider service point to the business' internal network.

The company noted that the migration of applications and real-time communications to the cloud means that enterprises of all sizes increasingly consider highly available network connectivity as a necessity. Diverse Connect serves to remove single points of failure while establishing access diversity and ensuring cloud-based business applications are always up and running.

Windstream's Diverse Connect is available immediately as part of the suite that includes voice, data, unified communications and security. The solution allows customers to provision and customise their services based on specific requirements and to maintain network redundancy at all times.

Key capabilities of Windstream Diverse Connect include:

1.         High availability, ensuring staff can stay connected with sites in the event of a network issue, mitigating potential loss of business or revenue due to outages.

2.         Diversity, providing an additional level of resiliency beyond redundancy by using multiple backup paths with no shared points of failure to keep critical endpoints connected.

3.         Business continuity, ensuring all services provided by Windstream continue to run even in the event of a fibre cut or other last-mile access impairment.

4.         Guaranteed service uptime with 5-9s end-to-end service level agreement that includes a commitment to credit customers for time lost if downtime exceeds 5 minutes per year.

Earlier in April, as part of its cloud services strategy, Windstream announced an agreement to acquire Broadview Networks, a provider of cloud-based unified communications solutions to SMBs, for approximately $227.5 million in cash. Subject to customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.

Based in Rye Brook, New York, Broadview offers cloud-based unified communications solutions to businesses via its suite of cloud-based services under the OfficeSuite UC brand.

ZTE Implements Virtual SDM for Banglalink in Bangladesh

ZTE announced that it has signed an agreement with Banglalink, a leading digital communications service providers in Bangladesh, to build what is believed will be the largest virtual Subscriber Data Management (vSDM) platform deployed to date.

The transformation project is designed to improve services for the approximately 35 million users of Banglalink's network. Specifically, the vSDM platform will help Banglalink to manage customer data more efficiently, as well as improve service availability.

The upgraded network will offer simultaneous support 2G, 3G and 4G, VoWiFi and VoLTE and other advanced services. The virtualised network is designed to provide faster mobile broadband services and enable services such as video chat, multimedia conferencing and multimedia messaging.

Banglalink Digital Communications is a company of Telecom Ventures, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Telecom Holding, owned 51.9% by VEON (formerly known as VimpelCom). VEON, with over 235 million customers, operates in 13 markets, including Russia, Italy, Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia and Laos, under the Beeline, Kyivstar, WIND, Jazz, banglalink and Djezzy brands.

  • On April 20th, ZTE and VEON announced a global framework agreement covering network function virtualisation infrastructure (NFVI) and virtual evolved packet core (vEPC), as a part of which they plan to cooperate on the development of virtualisation technology. Under the agreement, ZTE is to supply the VEON group with NFVI solutions and deploy large-scale NFVI and vEPC networks in a number of countries where VEON operates, including Russia. The cooperation between the companies is intended to promote VEON's wider NFV strategic planning and digitalisation initiative.
  • In January, ZTE and velcom, a major mobile operator in Belarus and part of Telekom Austria Group, announced the migration of the core of velcom's network to a virtualised, 'vCore' platform. Through the project, all legacy core network components, including HLR/HSS, EPC, MSC and PCRF, were migrated to a fully virtualised platform on OpenStack-based NFV and standard hardware.

AT&T launches fixed wireless Internet service in Georgia under CAF program

AT&T announced the completion of a first wave of fixed wireless Internet availability for rural and underserved locations in Georgia as part of the company's involvement with the FCC Connect America Fund (CAF), through which it has committed to connect over 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and over 1.1 million locations by 2020.

AT&T noted that the work in Georgia will be expanded to a further 17 states during 2017, namely: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

The fixed wireless Internet offering provides a home Internet connection delivering a minimum download speed of 10 Mbit/s. Connectivity is provided via a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on the customer's home or business, which is designed to offer a cost-effective means of delivering quality, high-speed Internet to customers in rural and underserved areas.

AT&T plans to reach a total of more than 67,000 locations across Georgia using the fixed wireless technology by 2020.

  • In January, AT&T announced that, following trials of fixed wireless Internet (FWI) service in 2016 in a number of states as part of efforts to expand access to primarily rural locations with slow or no Internet connectivity through its participation in the FCC CAF II, it planned to launch FWI in areas where it had accepted CAF support.

    At that time, AT&T noted it was trialing point-to-point millimetre-wave wireless technology that utilised in-building wiring to deliver a 100 Mbit/s connection accessible to each unit. The initial trial was using wired and wireless technologies to provide high speed Internet to multiple apartment complexes in Minneapolis, outside of its traditional 21 state wireline service area. AT&T added that it was aiming to offer speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s in trial properties using the fixed-wireless solution.

Nokia and Kaltura Partner on OTT TV

New York-based Kaltura, a specialist video technology supplier, announced that it has partnered with Nokia under an agreement designed to facilitate the delivery of a more personalised viewing experience leveraging its TV Platform for OTT TV service and Nokia's IP video delivery and storage platforms.

The two companies noted that, based on multiple live deployments for Tier-1 operators and media companies worldwide, they can offer a comprehensive, modular solution that integrates Nokia's Velocix product family, combined with the vendor's experience and capabilities, with Kaltura's proven TV Platform.

Through the partnership, Nokia will offer Kaltura's technology and expertise to customers worldwide to help them meet their business goals and provide a more personalised experience to consumers, while Kaltura will integrate Nokia's IP video products and leverage its systems integration experience to deliver enhanced solutions.

The combined offering encompasses advanced technology and capabilities including cloud DVR, CDN, flexible monetisation models and social media integration.

Kaltura stated that the new partnership with Nokia follows a number of deployments where the two companies were chosen and sourced separately by the telco customer. Building on this, the partnership is intended to enable tighter integration, increased synergy and a more streamlined process for customers.

Kaltura's product offering includes OTT TV and video monetisation solutions for media companies, operators, service providers and content owners, enterprise and education video solutions, and Kaltura VPaaS (Video-Platform-as-a-Service), a self-serve cloud video service designed to enable the creation and deployment of video applications, workflows and services. Kaltua claims customers for its video solutions including Viacom, Vodafone, HBO, ABC, Turner, Warner Brothers and Paramount.

  • In August 2016, Kaltura announced it had secured $50 million in pre-IPO funding from Goldman Sachs' Private Capital Investing group, which it planned to use to extend its footprint across all six continents, and to strengthen its position as the Everything Video company. In conjunction with the funding, Holger Staude, VP, Goldman Sachs' Private Capital Investing group, joined the Kaltura board.

Verizon introduces Fios Gigabit Connection for 8m homes

Verizon, serving nearly 114 million retail connections across the U.S., has announced the launch of Fios Gigabit Connection, a national deployment of gigabit Internet service offering download speed of up to 940 Mbit/s and upload speed as fast as 880 Mbit/s.

Following the launch of Fios Instant Internet service in January, Verizon noted that network performance exceeded expectations, with Instant Internet customers experiencing actual speeds above the advertised symmetrical 750 Mbit/s upload and download rates. Verizon has subsequently fine-tuned the service with new firmware and diagnostic tools to enhance performance to deliver the Fios Gigabit Connection service.

Fios Gigabit Connection is available to more than 8 million homes in parts of the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia, Boston, Providence and Washington DC areas. The coverage area adds more than one million homes to the Instant Internet footprint, with Verizon's highest speed Internet service available in the Washington DC and Providence markets for the first time.

In areas where Fios Gigabit Connection service is available, Verizon is offering two tiers of standalone Internet service - 50 Mbit/s and Gigabit Connection. Existing customers to Instant Internet service will automatically receive Fios Gigabit Connection.

As part of its fibre strategy, Verizon launched the One Fiber approach in Boston in 2016 and cited plans to invest $300 million over six years to deploy fibre throughout the city. Verizon originally announced plans in April 2016 to build a new fibre network to support services including Fios in Boston.

In January of this year, the company announced the launch of Fios Instant Internet in parts of Boston and Norfolk, Virginia offering symmetrical 750 Mbit/s bandwidth. Verizon also announced the launch of Fios Instant Internet in greater New York City and northern New Jersey, Philadelphia and Richmond, providing over 7 million premises on the East Coast with access to its Instant Internet offering.

Earlier in April, Verizon announced a three-year minimum purchase agreement with Corning for the provision of fibre optic cable and associated hardware equipment to ensure coverage and capacity for its nationwide wireless broadband network. Under the agreement, Verizon will purchase from Corning up to 20 million km (12.4 million miles) of fibre in each of the three years from 2018 through to 2020, with a minimum purchase commitment of $1.05 billion.

Ixia provides Test and Monitoring for CORD

Ixia, a provider of network testing, visibility and security solutions and now a Keysight Technologies company, has announced a collaboration with the CORD Project, developing the open source CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) platform for software defined networks (SDN), network functions virtualisation (NFV) and cloud-based service delivery.

Ixia noted that as service providers begin re-architecting their networks in preparation for 5G, there is a need to carry out comprehensive pre-deployment testing to ensure quality of service and performance, as well as to maintain visibility after deployments to ensure performance.

Ixia test solutions are designed to help service providers deploy and monitor advanced networks and services, such as Voice over LTE and LTE RAN, as well as transition to 5G. The Ixia IxLoad Wireless solution provides end-to-end performance testing for networks and components with emulation of multi-play services, enabling service providers to ensure services perform as expected.

In addition, Ixia's PerfectStorm application and security test hardware is designed to allow service providers to maintain optimal data centre infrastructure performance via testing based on realistic data, video voice, storage and network traffic.

Ixia's network visibility portfolio, which includes network packet brokers (NBP) such as Vision ONE, is designed to enable real-time, end-to-end visibility and deliver insight and security across physical, virtual, SDN and NFV infrastructure.

Ixia noted that the CORD Project, hosted by The Linux Foundation and launched by Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), the non-profit organization that is merging with Open Networking Foundation (ONF), was established with the aim of accelerating the adoption of SDN and NFV.

  • Keysight Technologies and Ixia announced on April 18th the closing of the acquisition of Ixia by Keysight through an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.6 billion, net of cash.