Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Telia Carrier launches new shorter route between Zurich and Strasbourg

Global wholesale services provider Telia Carrier announced a new, high capacity route that extends from Zurich, Switzerland to Strasbourg in France via Basel, Switzerland, providing a shorter path and lower latency between Frankfurt in Germany and Zurich.

With the launch of a new PoP and metro fibre in Zurich, Switzerland the new route provides customers with routing options that can significantly improve performance for transmission to and from Milan, Italy and Marseilles in France. The combination of a shorter route with increased security and diversity is designed to offer Telia Carrier customers to address the demands of end-users.

In Zurich, Telia Carrier stated that it is experiencing growing demand for high capacity fibre infrastructure and 100 Gbit/s and higher rate services from over-the-top (OTT) content providers and large-scale web hosting companies to meet end customer demand. The new PoP and additional fibre enables Telia Carrier to offer a range of services and routing options to local and international companies requiring connectivity throughout Europe.

  • In April, Telia Carrier announced it had added a new PoP that enables connectivity services for a growing economic sector in Berlin, Germany via the Carrier-Colo data centre, owned by I/P/B/. Located between Frankfurt and Warsaw in Poland, the PoP followed Telia Carrier's previously launched low latency DWDM route, the Frankfurt - Warsaw Express to meet demand for connectivity in the German capital.
  • In January, Telia Carrier announced a new route extending 900 km from Stockholm, Sweden to St. Petersburg via Tallinn, Estonia. At the same time the carrier stated it had upgraded multiple submarine cables across the Baltic Sea using coherent Flex-Grid technology to add capacity, lower latency and enable the delivery of 100 Gbit/s and higher rate services to carriers, content and cloud providers in the Baltics, Russia and beyond.

Sprint Launches SD-WAN with VeloCloud

Sprint launched its Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) services. The service is powered with VeloCloud's SD-WAN solution.

“The rapid change in technology is driving companies to consider SD-WAN as the answer to simplifying network challenges,” said Mike Fitz, vice president of the Sprint Global Wireline Business Unit. “The Sprint SD-WAN dashboard provides our customers with real-time, detailed visibility into the performance of their entire WAN and all of their applications, while single-click deployment minimizes the set-up time for branch offices and temporary sites.”

For connectivity, enterprises can use new or existing Sprint MPLS or broadband internet connectivity, as well as bring their own broadband (BYOBB) from other providers.  Sprint manages the customer’s SD-WAN solution across transport vendors, providing an integrated and seamless end-to-end experience.


GlobeNet expands facilities in Rio de Janeiro and Colombia

GlobeNet, a wholesale provider of telecom infrastructure in the Americas, announced that the expansion of its colocation facility in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the construction of a new data centre facility in Barranquilla, Colombia are scheduled to be completed in August as part of efforts to address increasing demand for wholesale telco and IT services in the Latin American market.

Both of the facilities are designed to expand GlobeNet's strategy of providing neutral interconnection for international and local operators, as well as enabling access to international destinations via its subsea cable system. These latest expansions complement GlobeNet's existing optical cable network, which spans more than 23,500 km throughout the Americas.

 Regarding the expansions, Eduardo Falzoni, CEO at GlobeNet, said, "The 200 sq. metre, upgradeable tier III data centre in Barranquilla allows integrators to offer sensitive customers a secure and resilient environment, diverse from Bogotá, to fulfil IT, security and disaster recovery needs… adjacent to GlobeNet's subsea cable landing station it will support the full suite of IaaS services".

  • GlobeNet noted that Internet penetration in the Latin America region is forecast to rise from around 56% in 2016 to nearly 61% by 2019 according to data from Internet World, with Brazil and Colombia in the top three Latin American countries in terms of Internet users in 2016. The study estimated that there were 139 million users in Brazil and 28.5 million in Colombia at the end of 2016.
  • In May last year, GlobeNet launched 100 Gbit/s wavelength services from New York and Miami in the U.S. to key data centres in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil. Leveraging advanced DWDM technology, GlobeNet's wavelength services offer support for application types and protocols including SONET/SDH, IP and ATM. GlobeNet noted at the time that it had expanded its network to São Paulo via a PoP at Equinix's SP2 facility in 2015.
  • Recently, GlobeNet announced the appointment of Erick W. Contag as executive chairman and Eduardo Falzoni as CEO. Mr. Contag previously served as GlobeNet CEO from 2008. Mr Falzoni joined Globenet as chief commercial officer in 2016, having previously served in senior roles with companies including Latin American Nautilus, Telecom Italia Sparkle and Telecom Argentina.

XKL introduces DarkStar Mux/Demux-Amplifier

XKL, a provider of optical networking systems, announced the launch of its DarkStar Mux/Demux-Amplifier (DMD-A) optical utility appliance, which offers optional features designed to enable for optimal network flexibility and manageability.

XKL's DMD-A appliance supports a variety of filter options including 48-channel or 96-channel mux/demux and 4-band or 6-band combiner filter, and enables point-to-point or east/west configurations. It also provides support for up to four EDFAs and one Raman amplifier, dependent upon other installed options. The appliance also features dispersion compensation and an integrated optical switch for path protection.

The DMD-A can serve as an integral part of an overall XKL network solution or can interoperate with any optical networking equipment that utilises the standard ITU grid, 50 GHz or 100 GHz channel spacing. The solution offers a simple interface for deployment and management that is designed to enable 'set and forget' administration of the appliance.

As with other XKL products, the DMD-A is compact, provided in a 1 or 2 rack unit form factor, and power efficient, and to help reduce opex is designed to be integrated and operated by IT professionals, without the need for optical engineers.

Additional key features of the DMD-A include: integrated path protection; 48 or 96 channel mux/demux; integrated EDFA and Raman amplification; dispersion compensation; low power consumption; available in 1 RU or 2 RU form factor.

  • Previously, in March XKL introduced the FlexArc solution, designed to enable flexible provisioning and scaling via increased control at Layer 1. Earlier this year, it announced new inline amplifier products for the DarkStar family and launched the DQT10 transponder with ROADM, extending the DQM10 family of DWDM appliances, enabling support for up to 96 channels and alien wave injection.

HPE Unveils The Machine for Memory-driven Computing

Hewlett Packard Enterprise officially introduced The Machine - the world’s largest single-memory computer.

The first prototype, which is the outcome of the largest R&D program in the history of the company,  contains 160 terabytes (TB) of memory. The company said The Machine architecture could scale to an exabyte-scale single-memory system and, beyond that, to a nearly-limitless pool of memory—4,096 yottabytes. For context, that is 250,000 times the entire digital universe today. The researchers calculate that a system of that size could "simultaneously work with every digital health record of every person on earth; every piece of data from Facebook; every trip of Google’s autonomous vehicles and every data set from space exploration all at the same time."

Key specs of the new prototype builds on the achievements of The Machine research program, includin:

  • 160 TB of shared memory spread across 40 physical nodes, interconnected using a high-performance fabric protocol.
  • An optimized Linux-based operating system (OS) running on ThunderX2, Cavium’s flagship second generation dual socket capable ARMv8-A workload optimized System on a Chip.
  • Photonics/Optical communication links, including the new X1 photonics module, are online and operational.
  • Software programming tools designed to take advantage of abundant persistent memory.

“We believe Memory-Driven Computing is the solution to move the technology industry forward in a way that can enable advancements across all aspects of society,” said Mark Potter, CTO at HPE and director, Hewlett Packard Labs. “The architecture we have unveiled can be applied to every computing category—from intelligent edge devices to supercomputers.”


China telecoms market monthly update - Part 1

Mobile subscribers for March 2017 (millions):

            Total subs       Added March   4G subs  Added March
China Mobile 856.485           2.787   568.074           9.471
China Unicom 266.265           0.641   122.726           6.613
China Telecom 221.53           3.010   137.640           5.930
Total 1,344.28        6.438   828.440           22.014

Comment on the above

There has been a slight acceleration over the last few months in China Mobile's new mobile additions and the March numbers were the highest since 2.831 million in September 2016 and the second highest of the last 15 months. However, the numbers for the first three months of 2017 are surprisingly similar to those of the first three months of 2016, so year on year the collective total for the first quarter was virtually flat. The standout number for the quarter was China Telecom's net addition of 3.01 million, which was not only higher than the China Mobile number for March but also almost 1 million higher than its own previously highest over the last 15 months of 2.02 million.

On the 4G side, while China Mobile continues to lead in new additions the level is now only about 50% of its average monthly additions in 2016. By comparison, China Telecom net additions in March were its second highest for the last 15 months and the China Unicom figure was by far its highest for the same period. Clearly, since both companies' share of net 4G additions during the month are higher than their share of cumulative 4G subscriptions to date both must be gaining share against China Mobile, but the gains are at a very slow rate.

Companies with 61% stake in Singapore telco M1 seeking sale

On April 21st Reuters reported that sources had told it that the three principal investors in Singapore operator MI, namely Malaysia's Axiata Group, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation, which collectively own around 61% of the $1.36 billion valued telco, had been contacting a number of telecoms firms, including China Mobile, and private equity companies, cash-rich business groups in China and Japanese tech firms, to gauge their interest in bidding for their majority ownership of the business.

M1's share price has nearly halved over the past two years due to its weak business performance amid increased competition, which is about to get even more intense once TPG Telecom of Australia, which has been awarded Singapore's fourth mobile licence, launches its services in 2018. Despite being by far the world's largest telco in terms of subscriptions served, China Mobile has historically been very tentative in terms of overseas expansion and so far has focused on investments in operators that serve neighbouring countries to China, i.e., in 2007 it bought a minor operator in Pakistan and in 2014 bought an 18% stake in Thailand's True.

Foxconn, with growing interests in electric vehicles, invests in CATL

On March 30th Taiwan News reported that Foxconn of New Taipei City, Taiwan and the world's largest electronics equipment manufacturing subcontractor with over 1.3 million workers and revenue of $136 billion in 2015, would invest NT$4.4 billion ($147 million) for a 1.19% stake in six year-old Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL). CATL is based in Ningde, a 3rd tier city of 252,000 people in the north of the south western coastal province of Fujian, which faces across the Straits of Taiwan to Taiwan.

CATL was founded by Robin Zeng, who has a doctorate in Chemistry and also previously founded Amperex Technology (ATL), also headquartered in Ningde but now majority owned by TDK of Japan, focused on consumer lithium-ion battery development and production for Apple, TDK, Amazon, HTC, Lenovo, Huawei and Coolpad. Under China's 13th 5 Year Plan (with 2020 targets including halving battery costs to below  RMB 1 (14.4 cents) per kilowatt hour, and improving energy density by two-thirds), CATL is one of three government-nominated Chinese battery makers (along with Guoxuan and Lishen) that will receive around $15 million in support funding if it meets those targets.

According to a Reuters report, CATL overtook global rival LG Chem of South Korea in battery output in 2016 and is close on the heels of two other international leaders - Japan's Panasonic and Warren Buffet-backed BYD of Beijing. CATL is aiming to grow its battery capacity six-fold by 2020 to 50 gigawatt hours, which if achieved would by then possibly put it ahead of Tesla Motor's Nevada Gigafactory. CATL electric car battery clients include German luxury car brand BMW, Chinese brands Yutong (Xiamen King Long United Automotive) and BAIC Motor.

In addition to its recent investment in CATL, Foxconn has increased its investments in self-driving electric vehicles in recent years, signing, in March 2015, a strategic partnership agreement with dealership chain China Harmony Auto and Chinese Internet specialist Tencent Holdings to launch the joint venture Zhejiang I-car Internet and Intelligent Electric Vehicle in Zhengzhou City, Henan province to develop connected smart electric vehicles.

In November 2016 it was reported that the above start-up had signed an agreement with local government officials to build a $2 billion assembly plant in the Chinese city of Shangrao in the south eastern province of Jiangxi, with the capacity to build up to 300,000 electric vehicles annually, as well as a production line to assemble battery packs for EVs.

Tencent, Harmony Auto and Foxconn have also formed a partnership to establish another EV start-up, China Future Mobility, to develop connected and automated electric cars. According to China Harmony Auto's financial report released in mid-2016, Future Mobility expected to unveil its first model next year and put it on sale in 2019. In late January 2017, it was reported that Future Mobility planned to invest RMB11.6 billion ($1.7 billion) to build a new factory in 2019 in Nanjing (the capital of Jiangsu province) with the capacity to produce 300,000 cars a year, with its first car likely to have a price tag of about RMB300,000 ($43,700).

Foxconn currently China Harmony Auto's second largest shareholder

A recent report by Taiwan's United Daily News also noted that two Foxconn subsidiaries (Eson Precision Industry, a module manufacturer, and BizLink Holding, a supplier of automotive equipment cabling and both important suppliers to the electric vehicle market) were key suppliers of Tesla electronic vehicle components, and speculated that Foxconn could play an important role in any future electric car developments by Apple.

Nokia enhances customer care and analytics software for digital services

Nokia has unveiled new machine learning capabilities and expertise designed to help service providers enhance the digital customer experience, specifically via the introduction of new solutions including Autonomous Customer Care and Cognitive Analytics for Crowd Insight software, and the Analytics Office Services suite.

Autonomous Customer Care

The new Autonomous Customer Care software, which targets the customer interaction segment within customer care, is due to be available in the third quarter. The software is designed to provide customers with deep machine learning capabilities that can help resolve service-affecting issues before they happen.

Building upon Nokia's deep digital network and services expertise, Autonomous Customer Care software features interactive care bots with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities and Nokia Bell Labs machine learning algorithms. The software can predict and help resolve issues so that corrective actions can be implemented before they affect customers.

In addition, Autonomous Customer Care can interface with consumer intelligent assistants such as Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Facebook Messenger, allowing subscribers to use natural language and the channel of their choice to troubleshoot and request services.

It was noted that Nokia Bell Labs has evaluated the performance of Autonomous Customer Care with a Tier-1 service provider and found that the machine learning capabilities could predict and resolve up to 70% of residential issues. It also demonstrated that the software could handle up to 80% of care issues without customer support agent intervention when subscribers use interactive bots.

Cognitive Analytics for Crowd Insight

Part of Nokia's customer experience management (CEM) portfolio, Cognitive Analytics for Crowd Insight is a new software application that leverages Nokia Bell Labs' machine learning algorithms to track and analyse the aggregate movement of subscribers using real-time network data rather than GPS or application data. This allows more frequent updates and larger sample sizes to deliver precise, timely change information, with the ability to leverage Nokia analytics installed base with more than 200 customers.

Analytics Office Services

Nokia Analytics Office Services suite, which is currently available, is designed to address the growing demand for analytics experts, including data scientists. The suite is designed to help service providers understand how to use analytics to improve the customer experience, monetise services, run services operations centres and automate their networks.

Pakistan selects ZTE to provide solutions for delivery of digital terrestrial TV

ZTE announced it has signed an agreement with Pakistan Television (PTV) covering digital television services during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China.

Under the agreement, PTV will leverage ZTE's technology to enable the delivery of digital TV broadcasts to viewers in Pakistan based on the DTMB (digital terrestrial multimedia broadcast) standard.

ZTE noted that Pakistan announced the adoption of the DTMB standard for digital television broadcasts in 2015 during an event attended by president Xi Jinping of China and prime minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. Pakistan, with a population of nearly 200 million, selected the DTMB technology that was developed by China, following the evaluation of technologies including the European DVB-T and the Japanese ISDB-T standards.

The new agreement between ZTE and PTV encompasses collaboration on R&D of digital terrestrial television technologies, staff training and content. The adoption of the DTMB standard in Pakistan is expected to promote partnerships with Chinese companies in areas including television sets and set top boxes.

ZTE noted that in April of this year it was awarded a tender by China's Ministry of Commerce for a project to deliver digital television services in Pakistan.

  • In 2016, ZTE announced a strategic collaboration with Pakistan's largest ICT services provider, Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL), to establish a joint innovation centre for big video (IPTV and OTT) in Pakistan. The joint innovation centre (JIC) was to focus on developing new technologies, seeking partners and creating and operating new value-added services. The JIC was expected to support innovation for PTCL's SmartTV service.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Big shifts in the U.S. mobile market – part 4


After years of rather stagnant market positions and look-a-like services, suddenly a lot is happening in the U.S. mobile market. In the first three articles of this series, we looked at the move to unlimited mobile data plans, the new regulatory climate in Washington, the Broadcast Incentive Auction, and the coming unlicensed spectrum technologies.

The FirstNet project is huge

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 there were calls to improve the communications of emergency response teams; sixteen years later and the U.S. is still working to put in place a national network capable of providing voice, video and broadband data communications to first responders. Until now, there has been a patchwork of incompatible radio systems, but finally it looks like the FirstNet project is ready to move ahead, providing a significant improvement for emergency personnel and potentially providing a long-term pillar of support for one of the four major U.S. mobile operators. FirstNet has publicised a very big number to reflect the size of its program: $46.5 billion.


In 2012, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created and funded by Congress an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). FirstNet set up its headquarters in Reston, Virginia along with a technical lab in Boulder, Colorado. The organisation is headed by a 15-member board and led by Michael Poth (CEO) and TJ Kennedy (president), both of whom have backgrounds in law enforcement. The FirstNet technical team is headed by Jeff Bratcher, CTO, who previously served at the NTIA and was at Motorola Cellular and Siemens Mobile during the earlier part of his career. FirstNet funding was raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions.

FirstNet will build a new Band Class 14 (700 MHz) network designed to be reliable, functional, safe and secure, and provide optimal levels of operational capability at all times. The infrastructure plan is divided in distinct layers: core network, transport backhaul, RAN and public safety devices.

AT&T wins the bid

On March 30th, FirstNet announced its selection of AT&T as its strategic partner. The record-breaking public-private partnership for communications infrastructure is formalised in a 25-year agreement covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, tribal lands and 5 U.S. territories. The broad terms of the agreement were listed as follows:

FirstNet to provide 20 MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the network buildout.

AT&T to spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety.

Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets.

The procurement process began with a network RFP issued by FirstNet in January 2016. AT&T said it was selected on a 'best value award' that considered financial sustainability and was based on more than just a technically acceptable solution at the lowest cost.

In describing the project, AT&T said it will provide a nationwide seamless, IP-based, high-speed mobile network supporting prioritised communications. The system will also leverage existing infrastructure. 5G capabilities will be added in the future. Another outcome of the project is that it will also make 20 MHz of prime broadband spectrum available for private-sector development. AT&T has assembled a team that includes Motorola Solutions, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government. FirstNet will be a huge step forward over the current emergency response systems, many of which have not been updated in over a decade and lack the video chat capabilities available on any smartphone.

Network slicing

For AT&T, the project will be a very powerful overlay to its own mobile infrastructure. In a sense, FirstNet will be a high-profile, high-margin MVNO on the AT&T infrastructure giving it a point of differentiation over its competitors. Due to its nature and budget, it is likely that many network elements are owned by and solely dedicated to FirstNet. This level of technical detail is not published in press announcement but might be accessible via the RFP documentation that should be part of the public record.

Meanwhile, AT&T and its competitors are building overlay networks on their mobile infrastructure for other applications and users, such as connected cars. For instance, AT&T provides in-vehicle connectivity for Tesla, supporting remote diagnostics, over-the-air updates, live traffic, Internet entertainment and other telematics. Entering the era of autonomous cars, the mobile infrastructure will have to keep up with latency and data volume requirements. Virtual network slices will become more numerous and more granular.

As the agreement outlines, FirstNet traffic will be flowing between its network domain and resources on the larger AT&T network, such as third-party, connected vehicles with cameras already at the scene of an accident. The expertise that AT&T gains by building the FirstNet project should be highly applicable to other commercial customers.

Concluding thoughts

With all these forces coming into play, 2017 is shaping up to be one of the big transformative years in communications, at least for the U.S. mobile market. Looking back at 2008, one can clearly see how the iPhone changed the course of all the major vendors. Now, instead of a single event, multiple changes are all happening at once; the regulatory climate will be a bigger factor than we have been used to during the Obama years; and if the AT&T Time Warner deal goes through, there will be heightened pressure on the other three players to keep up.

NEC Demos 50T per fibre over 11,000 km

NEC announced that it has demonstrated transmission capacity of 50.9 Tbit/s on a single fibre over a distance of more than 11,000 km, which the company claims represents the first time 50 Tbit/s have been achieved over 10,000 km using C+L band erbium-doped fibre amplifiers (EDFA).

NEC stated that the high capacity, long haul transmission demonstration corresponds to a record capacity-distance ratio of 570 Pb-km (Petabit/s per kilometre). NEC noted that its efforts to extend the benchmark 50 Tbit/s transmission capacity to trans-Pacific distances supports the current trend of increasing the reach of ultra-high capacity submarine cable segments.

The company stated that achieving the high capacity transmission, even employing extremely wide bandwidth EDFAs, requires the efficient use of bandwidth at a level approaching the Shannon limit, the fundamental spectral efficiency limit of optical communications. NEC added that while there is more than one way to design modulation formats that allow transmission close to the Shannon limit in the linear regime, these generally do not perform well in the non-linear regime, where the performance gap increases approaching the non-linear Shannon limit.

To address this issue, NEC researchers developed a multilevel, linear and non-linear constellation optimisation algorithm. Leveraging this algorithm, it created an optimised 32QAM (opt32) constellation that allows performance close to Shannon capacity and, more importantly, enables a higher non-linear capacity limit that is more appropriate to submarine transmission.

Additionally, the new modulation format developed by NEC is simpler to implement as it does not require iterative decoding or non-uniform coding. As a result, opt32 modulation enabled NEC researchers to achieve spectral efficiency of 6.14 b/s/Hz over a trans-Pacific route.

The demonstration also featured C+L amplification to maximise the capacity per fibre pair, and as part of the solution NEC researchers also developed a patent-pending bi-directional amplifier that is designed to reduce the effective noise figure and overall device complexity.

Netcracker 12 Targets Operation of Virtual and Cloud Infrastructure

Netcracker Technology announced the launch of Netcracker 12, a new technology platform featuring a comprehensive product suite designed to help service providers accelerate digitalisation and operationalise virtual and cloud infrastructures at scale.

The new Netcracker 12 provides an integrated platform with two-speed architecture and advanced agility layers designed to support rapid customer engagement, while optimising the digital business and operational domains.

The enhanced Netcracker product portfolio aligns to the business, operational and infrastructure needs of digital service providers and encompasses domains including:

1.         Digital customer enablement, leveraging a multi-speed architecture and analytics to enable omni-channel customer support and management, also offering an application and partner ecosystem.

2.         Digital business enablement, designed to transform legacy customer, partner and revenue management IT environments into cloud-based business systems.

3.         Digital operations enablement to help service providers rapidly create and deliver new digital, virtualised, cloud and value-added services over hybrid networks and including NFV management and orchestration and SDN controllers.
4.         Digital and cloud infrastructure, comprising virtual network functions (VNFs) including customer-edge, core and value-added VNFs, as well as data centre and NFVI and IoT and M2M modules.

5.         Advanced analytics that leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics modules that can be applied to internal and external operations.

6.         Cloud platform, a microservices-based, cloud-native platform that serves as the foundation for all Netcracker products and solutions, deployable in private, public or hybrid clouds using a DevOps approach.

7.         Business, operations and infrastructure agility layers, comprising an API ecosystem that enables the multi-speed IT architecture.

Netcracker noted that Netcarcker 12 is complemented by an expanded portfolio of professional services, designed to ensure that customers receive the support and guidance required to manage the complexities of a multi-speed IT architecture as they launch digital transformation and virtualisation initiatives.

Nokia and KDDI trial 5G on 28 GHz

Nokia and Japanese operator KDDI, serving around 40 million mobile subscribers, announced they have conducted a trial simulating future 5G network demands, providing high-speed, gigabit connectivity inside an apartment block utilising Nokia radio technology on the 28 GHz band.

The trial, conducted between the KDDI Research building and a residential apartment approximately 100 meters away, achieved speeds in excess of 1 Gbit/s over the 28 GHz band, demonstrating how 5G technology can be used inside apartment blocks to meet demand for wireless ultra-broadband including in major cities such as Tokyo, which is estimated to be the world's most densely populated metro area.

The trial with KDDI was carried out in Fujimino City, Saitama Prefecture and represents the first in a series of planned 5G collaborations between Nokia and KDDI following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2016 to develop technologies for a new, faster generation of wireless communications.

The trial specifically involved the Nokia AirScale base station, part of its 5G FIRST end-to-end solution, which provided coverage and connectivity to the apartment block. In addition, Nokia AirFrame provided a commercial platform to enable the cloud RAN and support the transmission of streaming data.

  • Last December, Nokia announced that KDDI had deployed its Motive Service Management Platform (SMP) to enhance customer care by streamlining and speeding the resolution of issues for its mobile subscribers. Nokia Motive SMP enables KDDI to improve the detection, troubleshooting and resolution of issues when subscribers use online self-care tools. KDDI was to deploy Motive SMP across its service areas in Japan via Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Telenor selects NEC for Microwave Systems

NEC announced that it has signed a global frame agreement with global telco Telenor based in Norway covering the provision of microwave communications systems to the group's 13 telecom affiliates in Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Through this agreement, NEC will provide full support for the deployments, from the introduction of its ultra-compact microwave communications systems, iPASOLINK VR and iPASOLINK EX Advanced, to maintenance services over a period of five years.

Under the agreement, NEC will initially supply the iPASOLINK solution to Telenor Pakistan, before expanding the delivery of its products to the group's affiliates in other geographic areas. Telenor group has operations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, as well as Pakistan.

NEC noted that it has a longstanding relationship with Telenor extending over decades, and has previously entered into a number of global frame agreements for microwave communications systems since 2006. NEC claims to be Telenor's largest supplier of microwave communications systems in terms of cumulative shipments.


  • In 2016 NEC and NEC Scandinavia announced it had been selected to provide routing, switching and security equipment and maintenance services to Telenor Norway and Telenor Sweden within the frame of the group's IP/MPLS network modernisation program (BRUT).
  • In 2015, NEC, together with Juniper Networks and Infinera, announced a global framework agreement with the Telenor Group under which it would act as a turnkey solution provider for Telenor with responsibility for delivering all major elements of the operator's transport network, including microwave, IP routers and optical equipment.

AT&T notes Streamlined rules for Small Cell Deployment in Iowa

AT&T announced that Iowa's governor Terry Branstad has signed into law a new measure designed to streamline and standardise rules and so accelerate the deployment of small cell technology to help support the next generation of high-speed wireless services in Iowa.

AT&T noted that small cell technology will be an integral building block for future 5G wireless broadband connectivity. The compact small cells are antennas that can be affixed to existing structures such as traffic signals, buildings and street lights. The size and flexibility of small cells can help target areas that require additional capacity in a cost-efficient way.

Small cells are designed to enable faster wireless Internet speeds, provide increased and more targeted network coverage to support demanding applications such as streaming content and provide the foundation for future technologies including 5G, smart cities and connected vehicles.

AT&T stated that it invested nearly $150 million in its Iowa wireless and wired networks from 2014-16 on upgrades to improve network reliability, coverage, speed and performance for consumer and business customers. In 2016, AT&T noted that it implemented over 350 wireless network upgrades in the state, including the addition of new cell sites and adding capacity on existing cell sites.

ZTE and China Mobile deploy 3D-MIMO

ZTE announced that working with China Mobile, China Mobile Zhejiang and the China Mobile Jiaxing Branch it has completed the commercial deployment and multi-scenario test verification of 3D-MIMO technology utilising its Pre5G Massive MIMO solution in Jiaxing.

China Mobile and ZTE jointly completed what was believe to be the first 3D-MIMO field verification in 2015. Subsequently, to enhance 4G network performance and the user experience, since December 2016 China Mobile and ZTE have been deploying a new generation of broadband 3D-MIMO base stations in Jiaxing. The partners have also conducted testing of the technology for scenarios such as high-traffic locations in universities and 3D coverage in high-rise residential buildings.

ZTE noted that universities may present high-traffic and high-interference scenarios, as well as demands in terms of single-user traffic, therefore China Mobile has conducted verification testing in such locations. 3D-MIMO can offer a solution to address this issue, and implementing 5G massive MIMO technology in 4G networks can maximise utilisation of existing spectrum and enhance 4G network speed and capacity.

By increasing downlink capacity by up to a claimed 3-5x and uplink capacity by up to 4-6x, the solution can deliver 5G-like performance on 4G LTE user equipment.

ZTE stated that for the 3D-MIMO site Jiaxing, using the three carriers on the 3D-MIMO site the downlink field rate reached 1 Gbit/s, around 3x that of macro base stations, while uplink performance has increased to provide a peak rate of 237 Mbit/s, 8x that of macro base stations. By sharing the traffic of super-busy cells, the 3D-MIMO site helps to reduce the resource occupancy of 8T macro-station cells and improve service throughput.

Test results for the Jiaxing 3D-MIMO site showed that, compared to co-frequency 8T macro stations providing the same coverage, the uplink and downlink spectrum efficiency of small-packet services (such as web page browsing and WeChat) can be increased by an average of 2-3x, while spectrum efficiency for large-packet services (such as file downloads) can be increased more than that. ZTE noted that up to 800 commercial users were in the cell during the tests.

In addition, ZTE stated that the results of previous verification testing in high-rise scenarios showed that, compared with 8T macro stations on the site, the 3D-MIMO base station can deliver vertical large-angle 3D coverage and enable both uplink and downlink rate gains in indoor weak/remote coverage points of up to 2-3x, while in weak coverage points at the cell edge the gains can be greater.

ZTE noted that in 2016 with China Mobile, 3D-MIMO pre-commercial verification was conducted in 29 provinces and 50 cities, with both companies working to advance the development of 3D-MIMO technology.

Brazil's Exceda introduces BALANCE multi-CDN Load Balancing

Exceda, a provider of content delivery network (CDN), security, and web intelligence services based in Brazil, announced the introduction of a CDN load balancing service that allows customers to leverage the performance of a multi-CDN strategy.

The new Exceda BALANCE service is designed to help customers add, configure, load balance and monitor multiple CDNs through a single managed service to help meet cost and performance requirements. Exceda BALANCE will be available from July 2017.

The new service will leverage Exceda's established capabilities in planning, integrating and managing customers' CDN solutions, and provide a single workflow to enable the management of multiple CDNs, monitored by the Exceda professional services team.

The BALANCE service will specifically utilise Real User Monitoring (RUM) and synthetic monitoring functionality, along with proprietary analysis tools, to enable balancing of web traffic between multiple CDNs in near-real time based on traffic load, cost and Internet conditions.
Exceda recently announced that its XCDN eCommerce-based CDN, currently available only to customers in the Americas region, would be expanded via collaborations with multiple CDN partners to enable the delivery of website content to and from locations worldwide.

Established in 2002 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Exceda is a major Akamai channel partner providing CDN, DDoS, WAF, data analysis and professional services designed to help customers accelerate web performance while reducing their infrastructure costs.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Big shifts in the U.S. mobile market – Part 3


After years of rather stagnant market positions and look-a-like services, suddenly a lot is happening in the U.S. mobile market. The first part of this series looked at the move to unlimited mobile data plans and the new regulatory climate in Washington; the second part covered the rapidly evolving spectrum map in the U.S., including the recently completed Broadcast Incentive auction and the bidding war for mmWave spectrum.

Extending LTE-Advanced to unlicensed spectrum

The evolving spectrum map in the U.S. would not be complete without at least a look at LTE-Advanced in unlicensed spectrum, a proposal that has been backed by Qualcomm and others for some years but which has yet to see mass adoption. Everyone likes something for free, so there certainly should be strong motivation by carriers to augment their performance using spectrum they do not have to pay for. However, the industry has been talking about this for nearly four years. Finally, it looks like the U.S. market is ready for the first commercial rollouts in the coming months. As of May 2017, there is a budding ecosystem of silicon, software and systems supporting the use of unlicensed spectrum. Downlink rates could reach into the hundreds of megabits per second close to a tower, with the right handset and the carrier is aboard.

There are at least four models for LTE Unlicensed: LTE-U, LAA, LWA and MulteFire.


LTE-U, which is based on 3GPP Release 12, combines LTE in unlicensed spectrum (5 GHz) with LTE in the licensed band through carrier aggregation in the downlink. LTE-U, along with LWA, is supported by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with X12 LTE, as well as the discrete Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. The new Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first mobile on the U.S. market to support LTE-U.


LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) is a 3GPP standard finalised in 3GPP Release 13 that uses a licensed LTE band as the primary carrier augmented through Carrier Aggregation to add a carrier in unlicensed 5 GHz (WiFi) spectrum for the downlink only. The idea is to carry high-priority traffic on the licensed band, while lower priority traffic is carried over the WiFi channel. The idea is very appealing to mobile operators but faced resistance from WiFi proponents and Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) who worried about interference. As early as 2015, it looked like Verizon and T-Mobile were ready to move ahead with LAA, but these plans were put on hold by the interference question.

A Qualcomm paper now finds LAA to be suited for the U.S. market, as well as EU countries and Japan, because it uses Listen Before Talk (LBT) technology to ensure co-existence with WiFi. In September 2016, the FCC granted an equipment authorisation to Qualcomm. Support for uplinks in the WiFi channel is expected in Release 14 and demos were featured at Mobile World Congress in February.


LTE - WiFi link aggregation (LWA), which is defined in 3GPP Release 13, is aimed at deployments where the operators already has carrier WiFi in operation in either or both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. WiFi resources can be managed through the LTE anchor. Qualcomm says the aggregation is possible even when LTE and WiFi access points are at different physical locations.


MulteFire targets deployments operating solely in unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band and without a licensed anchor channel. The MulteFire Alliance, which was formed in 2015, is developing a global ecosystem for LTE in unlicensed spectrum and the further development of small cell technology. The MulteFire Release 1.0 specification, which was approved in December 2016, builds on elements of 3GPP Release 13 LAA for the downlink and Release 14 enhanced LAA (eLAA) for the uplink. It includes enhancements for operation solely in unlicensed spectrum such as robust procedures for mobility, paging, initial access and efficient uplink control channels. It also uses Listen Before Talk to operating in shared spectrum.

Backers of this MulteFire include Liberty Global, CableLabs, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and many others. Potential applications could include large campuses that want to use LTE technologies instead of WiFi for managing large numbers of wireless connections on their premises. It is not clear if any carriers will launch services based on MulteFire, but presumably it could offer a pathway to market for a new entrant.

The following covers news relating to operator's unlicensed spectrum rollouts for the U.S. market:

T-Mobile US

In February, following the FCC certification of equipment from strategic partners Ericsson and Nokia, T-Mobile US, confirmed that it was deploying LTE-U technology in its LTE network. The company anticipates introducing new network capabilities and devices in the coming months. LTE- will enable T-Mobile customers to tap into the first 20 MHz of under-utilised unlicensed spectrum on the 5 GHz band and use it for additional LTE capacity. T-Mobile said it already has more capacity per subscriber than AT&T and Verizon, and the addition of LTE-U will extend that lead.


In February, as part of its announcement to bring 5G Evolution technologies to its first markets this year, AT&T said that LTE-LAA will play a key role in enabling peak speeds of 1 Gbit/s. The carrier highlighted Samung's Galaxy S8 as the first handset capable of its faster service. AT&T has a separate pre 5G trial underway in Austin that uses Ericsson's 5G RAN technology and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. This trial evaluates the use of 28 GHz, 39 GHz and sub-6 GHz frequency bands. AT&T is also working with Nokia to deliver DIRECTV NOW over a fixed wireless 5G connection using 39 GHz mmWave technology.


Verizon has worked closely with Qualcomm since at least 2015 to support LTE-U and put to rest interference concerns raised by the WiFi Alliance. In 2016, the companies conducted joint LTE-U testing in Oklahoma City and Raleigh under permission from the FCC. Verizon recently filed for an extension of that testing permit and was also a recent launch partner for Samsung’s Galaxy S8. There are no recently documents on the Verizon website discussing LTE-U or LTE-LAA plans but an analyst meeting to discuss the company's spectrum strategy is scheduled for May 8th.


Sprint, which currently serves about 60 million subscribers, holds more than 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 U.S. markets. This vast pool was created through its integration with Clearwire, the venture that long ago sought to build a nationwide WiMAX network. In 2013, Sprint completed the integration of Clearwire. More recently, Sprint CTO John Saw was quoted in the press as saying that Sprint would not have to resort to unlicensed WiFi bands to boost its network as it already has plenty of licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top U.S. markets.

In March, Sprint, together with Qualcomm and Motorola Mobility (a division of Lenovo) showcased a gigabit-class LTE service that employs three-channel carrier aggregation (CA) and 60 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in combination with 4 x 4 MIMO and 256QAM higher order modulation technology to deliver Category 16 LTE download data speeds on a TDD network. Sprint stated that it plans to utilise its 2.5 GHz spectrum to offer gigabit LTE service in high-traffic locations across the U.S. as part of its strategy to provide a foundation for 5G by 'densifying' its network via the addition of small cells and smart antennas. Sprint also plans to utilise massive MIMO, a key element of 5G, to further enhance capacity and coverage for its 2.5 GHz TDD-LTE spectrum.

Leveraging massive MIMO radios using 64T64R, Sprint expects to be able to increase capacity to beyond the 1 Gbit/s rate and deliver capacity of 3 to 6 Gbit/s per sector. Sprint also noted that working with Ericsson, at MWC 2017 it demonstrated 1 Gbit/s performance over 60 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum, while in collaboration with Nokia it demonstrated how massive MIMO can be used to increase cell capacity up to 8x compared to 4G LTE using 2.5 GHz TDD-LTE spectrum with 64T64R.

Beaten to the punch

Carrier aggregation has been in deployment now for several years and the various versions of LTE in unlicensed spectrum likewise have had several years in which to mature. Global carriers started to announce field trials as early as July 2015. For instance, in that month, Huawei and NTT Docomo performed a live demonstration of co-channel coexistence between LAA and WiFi systems. A software-based Listen Before Talk (LBT) was featured already in that trial.

In February, Vodafone Turkey claimed to be the first carrier worldwide to deploy commercially install a network “ready to use LAA technology, based on the 3GPP R13 standard. The LAA-ready network was tested using a Huawei Lampsite base station in Vodafone Turkey's Arena Store in Istanbul. It uses 40 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in 5 GHz and 15 MHz licensed spectrum in 2.6 GHz for three carrier aggregation. It hit an on-site peak download speed of 370 Mbit/s using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE mobile test device.

In April, GSA published a report stating that 13 operators were trialing or deploying LAA, and 8 operators were trialing or deploying LTE-U. Early movers in the international area for LAA include China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom (trials with Qualcomm), SK Telekom, SmarTone (Hong Kong), Vodafone Netherlands (trial with Ericsson) and others. For LWA, there is a trial underway in Taiwan by ChungHwa Telekom and in Singapore by M1.

Verizon to acquire Straight Path for $3.1bn

Straight Path Communications has announced a definitive merger agreement under which Verizon Communications will acquire Straight Path for $184.00 per share, equating to an enterprise value of approximately $3.1 billion, in an all-stock transaction.

Straight Path holds an extensive portfolio of 39 GHz and 28 GHz wireless spectrum licenses, specifically 868 FCC spectrum licenses providing wireless coverage across the U.S. The company also develops next generation wireless technology through its Straight Path Ventures subsidiary, and holds licenses and conducts business related to certain patents via its Straight Path IP Group subsidiary.

Concurrent with the agreement, Verizon will pay on behalf of Straight Path a termination fee of $38 million to AT&T, which on April 10th announced an agreement to acquire Straight Path for $95.63 per share, representing a total value of $1.6 billion. The sum implied a premium of 204% to the closing price of Straight Path's stock of $31.41 on January 11th and a 162% premium to the $36.48 price on April 7th.

As part of the agreement with Verizon, Straight Path announced that it is terminating the previously announced definitive agreement to merge with AT&T and Switchback Merger Sub. As previously announced, the Straight Path board determined after consultations with financial and legal advisors that the transaction with Verizon constituted a superior proposal. AT&T opted not to make any new bids or proposals to Straight Path or to propose amendments to the original agreement.

The acquisition of Straight Path for $184.00 per share in Verizon stock implies a premium of 486% to the closing price of Straight Path common stock of $31.41 on January 11, 2017, the day prior to Straight Path announcing its FCC settlement and strategic alternatives process, and a 404% premium to the closing stock price of $36.48 on April 7th, the business day prior to announcement of the AT&T merger agreement.

The proposed transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of Straight Path and Verizon, and the companies currently anticipate closing within nine months, subject to FCC review. The transaction is supported by Straight Path's majority shareholder, Howard Jonas, who has entered into a voting agreement with Verizon and agreed to vote his Class A shares in support of the transaction.

Regarding the acquisition, Hans Vestberg, EVP and president of global network and technology at Verizon, said, "Verizon now has all of the pieces in place to accelerate the deployment of 5G… combined with the recent transactions with Corning, XO Communications and Prysmian Group, this is another step to build the next-generation network for its customers".

AT&T Buys 39 GHz and 28 GHz Licenses for $1.6 Billion

AT&T agreed to acquire Straight Path Communications, which holds a nationwide portfolio of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses. Specifically, AT&T will acquire 735 mmWave licenses in the 39 GHz band and 133 licenses in the 28 GHz band. These licenses cover the entire United States, including all of the top 40 markets. The deal was valued at $1.6 billion, which includes liabilities an

See also