Monday, June 19, 2017

Digital Realty pays a premium for DuPont Fabros

Late last week came news of the latest consolidation in the rapidly-evolving market of colocation data centres. Digital Realty agreed to acquire DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $7.6 billion. DFT owns and operates a fleet of 12 purpose-built data centres concentrated in Northern Virginia, Chicago and Silicon Valley - three markets red hot for data centre activity. The DFT properties offer a combined total 3.5 million gross sq feet and 302 megawatts of available critical load. Digital Realty is the premier name in data centres, as it operates 156 key colocation facilities in 11 countries on four continents. The merger especially boosts Digital Realty's presence in hyperscale data centres in top U.S. markets.

DuPont Fabros hits a home run with hyperscale data centres

The quick summary for DFT is that all of the space in its 12 massive data centres is fully leased. The company is enjoying double digit growth in both revenue and earnings. A significant expansion programme is underway, including its first venture into Canada. The stock price has been soaring and now there is a takeover offer valued at $7.6 billion from the industry's leading player.

DFT was founded in 1997 and is based in Washington DC. Its co-founder and ongoing chairman of the board is Lammot J. du Pont and its second co-founder was Hossein Fateh. Together they pursued the concept of managing data centres as real estate, helping their enterprise customers to consolidate the rent, taxes and maintenance costs all under one lease. In 2007, the company went public as a real estate investment trust (REIT).

For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, earnings were 45c per share compared to 36c per share in the first quarter of 2016. Earnings increased 9c per share, or 25%, year over year, which was primarily due to new leases that commenced in 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 and lower preferred stock dividends, partially offset by the impact of the issuance of common stock that occurred late in the first quarter of 2016. For the year ended December 31, 2016, earnings were $1.67 per share compared to loss of 40c per share in 2015. The company proudly notes the credit worthiness of its leases, saying that investment grade or equivalent customers will represent more than 50% of total revenue.

DFT flagship location is its Ashburn, Virginia campus, which comprises of 2.138 million gross sq feet, built on 159.7 acres with a total critical load of 207.9 megawatts. Ashburn, commonly referred to as Data Center Alley, benefits from dense fibre connections to all major U.S. carriers, the presence of many federal agency customers and low-energy costs from Dominion Virginia Power. On this point, it should also be noted the Commonwealth of Virginia, along with Dominion Virginia Power (the leading electric utility in the state), have been laggards in regard to renewable energy. Dominion's website still lists coal generation as constituting 26.5% of its energy mix, while renewables (including hydro) account for only 5.6%. Another data centre in nearby Reston, Virginia adds another 256,000 sq feet of colocation capacity. For the central U.S., DFT owns and operates a campus in Elk Grove Village, Illinois (just outside Chicago) with a total 820,000 sq feet of space in two building. For the West Coast, DFT owns and operates a data centre in Santa Clara, California offering 360,000-sq feet of space and 36.6 megawatts of critical load capacity.

In 2016, DFT acquired the former Toronto Star printing plant in Vaughan, Ontario for $55 million CAD. Construction is underway to convert the former printing plant into a state-of-the-art data centre with 23 computer rooms spread across 21,016 M2 with a critical data power capacity of up to 46 MW.

As mentioned above, DFT also has a very busy expansion program under way.  It has six data centre development projects currently under construction in Ashburn, Chicago, Santa Clara and Toronto for a total expected investment of approximately $750 million. These new facilities represent roughly a 26% expansion of its standalone critical load capacity. All are expected to be online within the next 12 months, and remarkably the company has already pre-leased 48% of the new capacity. DuPont Fabros also boasts strategic land holdings in Ashburn and Oregon, which will support the future delivery of up to 163 megawatts of incremental capacity, along with 56 acres of land recently acquired in Phoenix.

In May, DFT confirmed its largest wholesale lease to date. A customer pre-leased 28.8 megawatts of electrical loads across two markets: its new CH2 data centre in Elk Grove Village and the first two phases of a new building being constructed on its Ashburn campus. In short, DFT is firing on all cylinders. The company has been the enviable position of signing customers even faster than it can build its hyperscale data centres. No wonder Digital Realty was willing to pay $7.6 billion to acquire them.

DLR gets interconnected metro data centre campuses

With 156 data centres to its name, Digital Realty (DLR) was already a competitive provider in all the DFT markets mentioned above. The merger with DFT gives its added capacity in Northern Virginia, Chicago and Silicon Valley. More importantly, it expands Digital Realty’s presence in the hyperscale segment, where top-tier cloud and content companies are eager to sign long term leases in major markets rather than going through the trouble of acquiring land, gaining permits and then building data centres on their own. DLR estimates that capex investments for hyperscale cloud infrastructure amounted to $26.3 billion in 2016, up from $21.1 billion in 2015.

In Northern Virginia's Data Center Alley, DLR already operated 17 data centres with a combined 2.2 million sq feet of space. DFT adds nine prime buildings. So now, the combined DLR will have a total of 26 data centres and 4.4 million sq feet of space within a 20-mile radius. With today's data centre interconnect (DCI) DWDM technology, the company will have the opportunity to tie these metro facilities together like never before. In Chicago, the merger will give DLR a combined 7 data centres and 2.5 million sq feet of space in a 25-mile radius. And in Silicon Valley, DLR will have 16 data centres and 2.1 million sq feet of space in a 7-mile radius.

Digital Realty's CEO A. William Stein commented, "This strategic and complementary transaction significantly enhances Digital Realty's ability to support the growth of hyper-scale users in the top U.S. data centre metro areas, while providing meaningful customer and geographic diversification for DuPont Fabros".

As for combined customers, an investor presentation following the merger announcement listed IBM, Facebook, CenturyLink, Rackspace, Equinix, LinkedIn, AT&T, JP Morgan Chase, Verizon, Dropbox and other marquee names.

Continuing the consolidation

The DFT-DLR deal is certainly notable for its rich valuation. It adds momentum to a sector that we already knew was red hot. In May, Equinix completed its acquisition of 29 data centres and their operations from Verizon Communications. This deal was valued at $3.6 billion in cash. Combined, the acquired properties cover approximately three million gross sq feet of data centre space. Also in May, private equity funds including Medina Capital Advisors and Longview Asset Management acquired CenturyLink's data centres and colocation for $1.86 billion. This deal consisted of CenturyLink's portfolio of 57 data centres which includes approximately 195 megawatts of power across 2.6 million sq feet of raised floor capacity. From the numbers we can see that there is no clear correlation between acquisition price and sq footage. As with all real estate, location is the prime factor, which brings the top tier customers in search of hyperscale space.

NTT Com deploys Coriant Groove to interconnect HKG data centres

Coriant announced that NTT Com has deployed the Coriant Groove G30 Network Disaggregation Platform to interconnect multiple data centre sites in Hong Kong to improve fibre utilisation and enable 100 Gbit/s and higher data centre interconnect (DCI) services.

Designed to provide hyper-scale density with low power consumption, deployment of Coriant's Groove G30 solution allows NTT Com to increase utilisation of its fibre infrastructure and cost-efficiently deliver high speed DCI services optimised to meet the mission-critical traffic demands of regional and global customers.

Coriant noted that, as a pioneer in the implementation of SDN-enabled connectivity between enterprise clouds, colocation data centres and customer-owned data centres, NTT Com is a leading provider of next-generation networks. The operator has deployed the Groove G30 in an alien wavelength application over its existing DWDM infrastructure. The solution offers an open, plug-and-play modular architecture designed to speed service deployment and enable efficient transport.

The Coriant Groove G30 platform is designed to enable the provision of programmable, high speed secure bandwidth for mobile, video and cloud applications. The stackable solution supports 3.2 Tbit/s of throughput in a compact and pluggable 1 RU form factor and enables service providers and cloud and data centre operators to build scalable and secure transmission and optical solutions with functionality enabled via open APIs.

The Coriant solution also supports programmable DWDM line interfaces designed to optimise the bandwidth and performance of transmission at rates from 100 up to 400 Gbit/s for metro, regional or long-haul transport and DCI applications.

Earlier this year, NTT Com announced plans to deploy a 400 Gbit/s optical transmission system in its data centres, increasing the transmission capacity of its core network above 19 Tbit/s per fibre - more than double the existing capacity. NTT Com stated that the 400 Gbit/s rate leveraged digital-signal processing technology developed in house.

DOCOMO Pacific ATISA Guam subsea cable ready for service

DOCOMO Pacific, a service provider in the Marianas and a subsidiary of Japan's NTT DOCOMO, announced that construction and testing of the 183-mile ATISA submarine optical cable system connecting Guam to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has been completed and the system is now ready for service.

The ATISA submarine cable, for which a supply contract was signed in February 2016, was recently landed and connected to the terrestrial fibre networks on Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The system will be launched with an initial operating capacity of 200 Gbit/s, while offering a total design capacity of 7.2 Tbit/s.

DOCOMO Pacific will now begin providing connectivity services to enterprise customers, and stated that it is already serving its first enterprise partner, the Commonwealth Port Authority, which operates the Francisco C. Ada Saipan international airport, with high-speed Internet connectivity. ATISA also connects the CNMI with Guam, where local businesses and government agencies can connect to other cable systems.

Additionally, from August this year, DOCOMO Pacific plans to start offering mobile, cable TV, online and home telephone services for residential customers in the CNMI.

For the ATISA cable system, DOCOMO Pacific selected NEC to design and build the cable and Ciena's submarine GeoMesh solution to provide 100 Gbit/s wavelengths and to facilitate the delivery of new on-demand services for end users. The Ciena solution is designed to offer scalability to support communications requirements over the lifetime of the cable.

Additionally, Ocean Specialists (OSI), a submarine optical cable consulting firm, advised DOCOMO Pacific on the project and provided project management support.

DOCOMO Pacific noted that ATISA is the second undersea cable in the CNMI and the first new system to be built in nearly twenty years. The company stated that the cable system involved investment of over $16 million for the cable, plus an additional $9 million to modernise and expand its fixed and mobile networks in the CNMI.

Mellanox forms strategic agreement with HPE

Mellanox Technologies announced a strategic collaboration with HPE covering high-performance computing and machine learning data centres, and also introduced SHIELD, an interconnect technology that is claimed to improve data centre fault recovery by 5,000 times through providing interconnect autonomous self-healing capabilities.

HPE collaboration

Mellanox collaboration with HPE is designed to enable efficient high-performance computing and machine learning data centres based on technologies from both parties. The joint solutions are intended to enable customers to leverage the InfiniBand and Gen-Z open standards to enhance return on investment for current and future data centres and applications.

Leveraging Mellanox's intelligent and In-Network Computing capabilities of ConnectX-5 InfiniBand adapters and Switch-IB2 InfiniBand switches in the recently launched HPE SGI 8600 and Apollo 6000 Gen10 systems the companies can offer scalable and efficient high-performance computing and machine learning fabric solutions.

The collaboration will enable both companies to develop technology integration and use the forthcoming HDR InfiniBand Quantum switches, ConnectX-6 adapters and future Gen-Z devices. In addition, joint development work with HPE's Advanced Development team will support the advance to Exascale computing.


The new SHIELD technology is enabled within Mellanox's 100 Gbit/s EDR and 200 Gbit/s HDR InfiniBand solutions, providing the ability for interconnect components to exchange real-time information and to make instant smart decisions to help overcome issues and optimise data flows. SHIELD is designed to enable greater reliability, more productive computation and optimised data centre operations.

Switzerland's Sunrise deploys RAD performance monitoring

RAD announced that Sunrise Communications, the second mobile operator in Switzerland with around 3 million subscribers, has selected its Service Assured Access (SAA) solution to guarantee high performance services for customers.

Sunrise offers fixed-line, IPTV and Internet access, as well as business and IT services, in addition to its mobile offerings, which include LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTA-A, or 4G+). RAD noted that currently much of this IP traffic is carried over microwave links, which adds latency and jitter and can result in packet loss. To address this issue, Sunrise required a cost-effective performance monitoring solution to ensure QoS across all network segments and guarantee end-to-end QoE for customers.

Sunrise has selected the RAD performance monitoring overlay solution as an add-on to its existing network. RAD's performance monitoring (PM) solution features PM controllers, which monitor and collect data on network traffic and service quality using a range of protocols, including both versions of TWAMP, as well as its patented MiNID, a field-programmable miniature Carrier Ethernet and IP network interface device (NID) that serves as a remote testing probe.

For the project, PM controllers have been deployed at Sunrise's central sites, where they collect performance monitoring data. In addition, the MiNID products are placed at intermediate measurement points and multiple eNodeBs, where TWAMP support is not otherwise available. This model is designed to allow all elements in the network to quickly match their testing capabilities.

RAD stated that the ability to rapid integrate its technology with Sunrise's central management system ensures that performance data is instantly available to enable corrective measures to be taken. It added that a key advantage of this architecture is the ability to conduct a variety of diagnostic tests utilising the MiNIDs between individual eNodeBs.

Regarding the deployment, Dragan Ciric, senior manager, transport network at Sunrise, commented, "For detected issues, Sunrise is able to segment the problematic service path, measure the performance on each segment and in this way quickly identify the root cause… moreover, the solution supports full TWAMP and the newer TWAMP Light in a single device, which enables flexible monitoring… (with) reduced capex".

Broadband Forum establishes Gfast Council

The Broadband Forum announced the launch of the Gfast Council, established with the goal of centralising and disseminating expertise and experience relating to the market to support the deployment of technology.

To facilitate the roll-out of solutions based on technology, which enable the provision of gigabit broadband access over existing wiring infrastructure, the new Gfast Council will hold industry events, issue white papers, detail use cases and provide other resources to promote adoption of the technology.
The council will also promote the Gfast Certification program, which has announced the first certified, interoperable products, to help accelerate the availability of interoperable solutions and aid integration into service provider networks.

Open to all Broadband Forum members, the Gfast council will represent the Broadband Forum and the Gfast community at industry events such as the TNO Ultrafast broadband event held this week in The Hague.

Separately, the Broadband Forum announced the first six products to have successfully completed the new Gfast certification program, hosted in the forum's Gfast test lab at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), in accordance with the forum's IR-337 certification test specification.

The initial products certified under the program are from ARRIS, Calix, Huawei, Metanoia, Nokia and Technicolor, and have been awarded the Gfast device certification. The first products to be certified are based on chipsets from Broadcom, Metanoia and Sckipio.

In addition, the UNH-IOL has made the Gfast test automation software commercially available. The software controls the Telebyte test and measurement equipment, enabling device manufacturers to pre-test devices in their own labs and service providers to regression test software updates from vendors.

ZTE completes 26 GHz field testing in Beijing

ZTE claims that it has become the first vendor to conduct 26 GHz high-frequency field tests during the second phase of China's 5G test in Huairou, Beijing.

ZTE stated that it led the 26 GHz high-frequency field testing of its 5G new radio (NR) pre-commercial base station, which was demonstrated to deliver strong performance in interconnecting with the instruments and chips from a number of manufacturers. In addition, ZTE has applied to conduct official tests using frequency bands greater than 40 GHz in its Shanghai R&D centre as part of its efforts to develop solutions for the high frequency bands.

ZTE noted that the 5G testing is led by China, and organised and implemented by the IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group, which includes the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom and DOCOMO of Japan.

The latest 5G test program in China is covers technical solution verification as part of the second phase of testing and focuses on verifying technical solutions in the areas of continuous wide coverage, high capacity (low and high frequency), low latency and high reliability, low power consumption and hybrid scenarios.

ZTE added that China started to build the 5G test program earlier this year, which is believed to be the largest such test initiative, as well as the most advanced, and is based on an open test platform. Through the program, China is aiming to integrate core strengths in the industry and to promote global 5G standardisation and technology development.

Following the completion of the first phase of China's 5G technology R&D test, ZTE noted that it is engaged in the second-phase testing. Using its latest IT baseband unit (BBU), 5G multi-band active antenna unit (AAU) and NR air interface technologies, ZTE has launched field tests designed to address key performance requirements in typical application scenarios such as enhanced spectral efficiency, greater connection density, higher reliability and lower delay air interfaces.

oyment of 3D-MIMO, also termed Pre5G Massive MIMO in the city of Quanzhou in Fujian province.ZTE stated that with 16 commercial terminals connected, the single-carrier downlink peak cell rate has been increased to 730 Mbit/s, with a single-carrier 16-stream downlink peak rate using 3D-MIMO of up to 700 Mbit/s achieved. In addition, a three-carrier rate of up...

Metanoia Gfast chip deployed by Swisscom

Metanoia Communications, a subsidiary of Elan Microelectonics based in Taiwan and developer of high-speed xDSL and Gfast PHY chipsets for wireline broadband applications, announced that it has achieved two key milestones in its Gfast product strategy.

Firstly, Metanoia was part of a product deployment based on its Gfast chip embedded into an SFP solution provided by Swisscom, the incumbent operator in Switzerland; secondly, the company's MT-G5321-based Gfast CPE and DPU products have been certified by the Broadband Forum (BBF) and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) under the forum's recently launched Gfast Council initiative.

Metanoia noted that mass deployment of the SFP-based Gfast solution by Swisscom commenced recently, designed to enable the operator's customers to benefit from improvements in broadband service throughput and reliability without the need to change the router.

The company also stated that the recent announcement of Gfast Certified products by the BBF, in accordance with its IR-337 certification test specification, is designed to support industry interoperability and expand acceptance of the technology for mass market deployments.

Metanoia's Gfast technology is based on a single configurable device, the MT-G5321, which is designed to be embedded into both CPE solutions, such as SFP units that can be plugged into existing or future home gateways with an SFP cage, and CO solutions, for example low power, single port DPU solutions.

* In October 2016, Metanoia announce it had achieved interoperability between its Gfast solution and the Gfast solution used in Swisscom's DPUs.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cisco VNI: big shifts in traffic patterns

In the first part of this article, the remarkable 26% CAGR that the latest Cisco VNI report is predicting for 2017-2021 was noted. A 26% CAGR is steep in any field let alone the already massive Internet that exists today. Perhaps the most important observation was that the growth rate is accelerating. This part will look at some of the shifting patterns for Internet traffic as seen in the study. Here are the key observations for this part of the article: (1) Traffic is moving closer to the edge; (2) regional traffic trends are uneven; (3) business continues to invest in ways to segment traffic from the public Internet and that the fastest such area of growth is SD-WAN.

Moving toward the edge

With the widespread availability of content delivery networks (CDNs) and related caching technologies, the volume of IP traffic traversing long-haul networks should be declining. Much of this traffic growth is video. In fact, the Cisco VNI study predicts that video will represent 80% of all Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67% in 2016. Globally, there will be nearly 1.9 billion Internet video users (excluding mobile-only) by 2021, up from 1.4 billion in 2016. Much of this content works well in a CDN. However, currently there are a handful of super-sized Internet content providers (ICPs) that are operating a fairly small number of hyper-scale data centres. Facebook, for instance, serves over a billion daily users, with major European data centres located near the Arctic Circle in Luleå, Sweden. Because Facebook feeds are customised for user, each session for European users pretty much ensures that traffic is traversing the core network and long-haul backbone. The story is pretty much the same for AWS, Google and Microsoft. However, each of these ICPs is undergoing a rapid build-out of data centres, meaning more facilities closer to users. By late 2018, Facebook should have three European data centres in operation (construction of two new Facebook data centres is underway in Clonee, Ireland and Odense, Denmark). By 2021, it is likely that Facebook could have five or six European data centres. This alone would redirect significant traffic off the long-haul network to northern Sweden and onto more regional networks.

Below are some key Cisco VNI findings:

·         End-user Internet traffic is moving closer to the edge; over one-third of traffic will bypass core by 2021.

·         Globally, 35% of Internet traffic will be carried metro-to-metro by 2021, up from 22% in 2016.

·         Globally, 23% of Internet traffic will be carried on regional backbones (without touching cross-country backbones) by 2021, compared to 20% in 2016.

·         Globally, 41% of Internet traffic will traverse cross-country backbones by 2021, compared to 58% in 2016.

The second observation is that regional differences in IP traffic growth will remain with us in 2021 and likely for more years in the future. Even though the latest mobile phone models somehow spread to cities all around the world remarkably fast, global economic development is uneven and network infrastructure reflects it. By 2021, 5G rollouts will be underway in many countries with robust economies but will come later to others. The figures gathered by the Cisco VNI, show the APAC region leading with the greatest IP traffic load by 2021, North America follows, but with a much smaller population compared to APAC, per capita bandwidth intensity remains highest in North America. The Cisco VNI figures, specifically regional IP traffic growth 2016 – 21, show:

•   APAC: 107.7 exabytes/month by 2021, 26% CAGR, 3.2-fold growth.

•   North America: 85 exabytes/month by 2021, 20% CAGR, 2.5-fold growth.

•   Western Europe: 37.4 exabytes/month 2021, 22% CAGR, 2.7-fold growth.

•   Central Europe: 17.1 exabytes/month by 2021, 22% CAGR, 2.75-fold growth.

•   Latin America: 12.9 exabytes/month by 2021, 21% CAGR, 2.6-fold growth.

•   Middle East and Africa: 15.5 exabytes/month by 2021, 42% CAGR, 5.8-fold growth.

Business IP traffic volume

The latest Cisco VNI report also predicts that global business IP traffic will grow at a CAGR of 21% from 2016 to 2021. Since this figure is based on current metrics from Cisco's service providers (as well as other sources as discussed in the study’s methodology), it is clear that networks are filling up and that they are doing so at an accelerated rate. More businesses are sending/receiving traffic to the Internet, mostly likely due to increased use of video and accessing cloud services over the public Internet. Cisco expects advanced video communications in the enterprise segment to cause business IP traffic to grow by a factor of 3 between 2016 and 2021.

The Cisco VNI report has a separate category for IP WAN, which is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 10%, compared with a CAGR of 20% for fixed business Internet and 41% for mobile business Internet. This category could include Layer 2 and VPN services. Increasing numbers of service providers are offering direct connection options for AWS and Microsoft Azure, and as the general movement of corporate data into the public clouds increases, one would expect that the traffic load on these private connections to grow substantially. However, Cisco is predicting business IP traffic in North America to grow at a CAGR of 23%, a faster pace than the global average of 21%. In volume terms, in Asia Pacific will have the largest amount of business IP traffic in 2021, at 17 EB per month, with North America second at 14 EB per month.

One area of intense activity now being tracked by Cisco VNI is global enterprise SD-WAN traffic, which is now predicted to grow at a CAGR of 44% compared to 5% for traditional WAN. Cisco predicts that SD-WAN will increase six-fold over the forecast period and represent 25% of WAN traffic by 2021. This is good news for Cisco, given that it recently agreed to acquire Viptela, a start-up specialising in SD-WAN, for $610 million in cash and assumed equity awards. Cisco's SD-WAN portfolio also includes its home-grown intelligent WAN (Iwan) solution and Meraki cloud platform.

New Zealand's Spark partners with Nokia

Nokia and telco Spark announced a partnership to prepare networks in New Zealand for future demands arising from the move to 5G, ultra-broadband and IoT services through upgrading the capacity, flexibility and agility of Spark's national core and backhaul IP/MPLS network.

Spark, which serves around 2 million residential customers as well as businesses, stated that it is committed to making New Zealand a leading country in the adoption of 5G, and noted it has experienced a ten-fold increase in network traffic following the introduction of its broadband over wireless service, which is based on a Nokia IP/MPLS network. As part of this effort, the operator plans to expand the capacity and flexibility of its transport network over the next two years in preparation for 5G.

The company noted that the adoption of 5G will also help to meet the national government goal of extending broadband services in rural areas, as well as helping it to reduce the costs of delivering broadband services.

The upgrade project with Nokia specifically covers a 3-year strategic partnership through which the vendor will supply advanced IP and optical networking equipment and software, including the new Nokia 7250 Interconnect Router R6 (IXR-R6)platform.
The 7250 IXR-R6 solution is designed to address key requirements relating to traffic growth and major architectural changes to support the transition towards 5G. The platform features terabit capacity and high-port density in a compact, ruggedised form factor. Nokia's 7250 IXR-R6 also offers security features and a range of interconnectivity options, including legacy SDH/SONET and latency-sensitive Ethernet for next-generation fronthaul interface (NGFI).

The 7250 IXR-R6 is designed to enable the cost-effective transport of latency-sensitive and 'bursty' traffic, making it suitable for the delivery of both ultra-broadband and future IoT-based services.

Nokia noted that this latest agreement with Spark follows the operator's launch of 200 Gbit/s per-wavelength connectivity utilising its PSS1830 Optical Transport Network platform last year. For that project, Spark deployed what was claimed as the country's first 200 Gbit/s per-wavelength production fibre link to connect its core network with its global gateway using Nokia's PSS1830 OTN.

Canadian data centre company eStruxture raises C$80m

Montreal-based eStruxture Data Centers, a new network and cloud-neutral data centre operator, has announced the development of its Canada-wide platform, designed to meet the growing demand for large, energy efficient data centres that is being driven by the adoption of cloud services and demand for data storage within Canada.

The company stated that it has raised an initial C$80 million in capital through a funding round led by Canderel and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. The funding will be used to expand its footprint across Canada, both through the acquisition of existing data centre operators and new data centre development.

As part of this growth strategy, eStruxture also announced the completion of its first acquisition with the purchase of the assets of Netelligent Hosting Services, a major data centre operator in Montréal.

Netelligent provided colocation, cloud, managed services and bandwidth to more than 850 customers and had developed a cloud-neutral ecosystem that allowed customers to access diverse private and public cloud providers. The acquired downtown data centre facility enables eStruxture to offer customers high-density power of up to 30 kW per cabinet.

eStruxture was established to provide network and cloud-neutral data centre solutions designed to offer the capacity, performance and flexibility required for demanding enterprise applications. The company offers colocation, private cloud, managed services, bandwidth and security and support services to customers of all sizes.

eStruxture is led by president and CEO Todd Coleman, who co-founded Cologix, where he also served as COO. Mr. Todd has held a number of senior positions at companies including Level 3 Communications, where he held the roles of SVP of Data Centers, SVP of Media Operations and president of Level 3 Communications Europe.

CenturyLink launches Managed Enterprise with Cisco Meraki service

CenturyLink has announced the availability of CenturyLink Managed Enterprise with Cisco Meraki, a new service designed to enable customers to more efficiently deploy and monitor WiFi networks, security, wireless, phone, video surveillance and SD-WAN services using a single administrative dashboard.

Based on products from Cisco Meraki, the managed solution allows single- or multi-site customers to utilise CenturyLink for the provision of components including devices, licenses, connectivity, management and support.

The new solution is designed, configured, monitored and maintained by CenturyLink and offered with fixed, monthly per-device pricing. Customers can select from the available components when initially ordering the solution and subsequently add or remove components as needed.

The new managed Meraki solution is designed to be integrated with other CenturyLink offerings such as Managed Office, Fiber + and Location-Based Analytics, a fully managed customer engagement solution that provides businesses with insight into real-time data and helps them to create more personalised services leveraging analytics and marketing tools.
CenturyLink Managed Enterprise with Cisco Meraki is also available to CenturyLink Alliance program partners. The company plans to extend availability to international customers later in the year.

CenturyLink introduced its Location-Based Analytics mobile engagement, analytics and marketing solution for use by operators in locations where customers congregate in 2016. The solution leverages the CenturyLink Managed WiFi solution that features Cisco Meraki WiFi access points and security appliances and is designed to enable high speed connectivity and reliable coverage for equipment sensors and  mobile devices.

China Mobile and ZTE Demo 2.1 Gbit/s using 3 CA + 3D-MIMO

ZTE and China Mobile Quanzhou Branch announced that they have completed the commercial deployment of 3D-MIMO, also termed Pre5G Massive MIMO in the city of Quanzhou in Fujian province.

ZTE stated that with 16 commercial terminals connected, the single-carrier downlink peak cell rate has been increased to 730 Mbit/s, with a single-carrier 16-stream downlink peak rate using 3D-MIMO of up to 700 Mbit/s achieved. In addition, a three-carrier rate of up to 2.1 Gbit/s was achieved. ZTE claims that these speeds mark a record for a commercial environment, and build on three-carrier, 8-stream downlink rate with 3D-MIMO of 1 Gbit/s, also working with China Mobile.

ZTE explained that using the key 5G technology massive MIMO on the same bandwidth, 3D-MIMO base stations are able to deliver a peak throughput 7x higher than existing 4G macro stations, enhancing services and enabling reliable video transmission.

Quanzhou Mobile and ZTE noted that they have commercially deployed 3D-MIMO in 'big video' environments and verified the peak cell rate, representing a milestone towards the commercialisation of massive MIMO technology. The partners plan to continue to work together to expand the 5G-like Internet experience to more end users.

China Mobile and ZTE stated that they have been jointly developing and verifying 3D-MIMO technology since 2015, and in 2016 conducted 3D-MIMO pre-commercial verification in 50 cities across 29 provinces of China. The new-generation 3D-MIMO product is claimed to be suitable for engineering installation in macrocell and hotspot scenarios. The product provides support for multiple bands (3.5, 2.6 and 2.3 GHz), multiple carriers and multiple bandwidths and can be integrated with existing networks.

ZTE's Pre5G strategy is based on applying key 5G technologies such as massive MIMO to existing commercial 4G networks, as well as the enhancement of LTE-A Pro technologies within a 3GPP architecture via technology such as carrier aggregation (CA), unified delivery network (UDN), 256QAM, licensed assisted access (LAA), LWA (LTE and WLAN aggregation) and NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT). ZTE claims that to date its Pre5G-related solutions have been deployed on over 60 networks in 40 countries.

Verizon completes Yahoo! acquisition for $4.48bn, launches Oath

Verizon Communications announced the completion of its acquisition of the operating business of Yahoo!, and that it has combined these assets with its existing AOL business to create a new subsidiary, Oath, comprising more than 50 media and technology brands worldwide.

Verizon acquired the Yahoo! operations for approximately $4.48 billion through an agreement originally announced in July last year. Closing of the agreement was delayed as the companies assessed the effect of two data breaches disclosed by Yahoo! after the transaction was announced. The agreement originally value Yahoo! at approximately $4.8 billion in cash.

As a subsidiary of Verizon, Oath will focus on building its brands. The company reaches over one billion people worldwide, offering a group of over 50 media and technology brands. The new Oath portfolio includes HuffPost, Yahoo Sports,, MAKERS, Tumblr, BUILD Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail.

The business, part of Verizon's Media and Telematics organisation, will be led by Tim Armstrong, former CEO of AOL. Mr. Armstrong has been leading integration planning teams since the Yahoo transaction was announced in July 2016.

Tim Armstrong is also leading efforts to continue to build an advanced and open advertising technology solutions, with brands such as ONE by AOL and BrightRoll spanning mobile, video, search, native and programmatic ads.

Verizon stated that following the changes to former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's role with Yahoo as a result of the closing of the transaction, Ms. Mayer has resigned from the company.

Commenting on the transaction, Marni Walden, president of Media and Telematics, said, "The close of this transaction represents a critical step in growing the global scale needed for Verizon's digital media company... the combined set of assets across Verizon and Oath, from VR to AI, 5G to IoT, from content partnerships to originals, will create new ways to (address) audiences globally".

  • In April this year, Verizon announced it would adopt a new operating structure focused on three areas: Media and Telematics, Network and Technology, and Customer and Product Operations.
  • Verizon also announced the appointment of: Marni Walden as EVP of the Media and Telematics business; Hans Vestberg, former CEO of Ericsson, as EVP of the new Network and Technology operation; and John Stratton as EVP of the Customer and Product Operations unit.

Profile of Orange, a global operation with big ambitions – Part 3


Orange SA is perhaps the global carrier with operations in the most diverse geographies and cultures. From its headquarters in Paris, Orange (formerly France Telecom) now serves 265.162,000 subscribers worldwide with mobile, broadband, fixed telephony, TV and a range of advanced enterprise services. In Part 1 of this series, the company's recent performance indicators were covered; in Part 2 the two growth segments, Africa and mobile money, were profiled. Part 3 will cover Orange's innovation activities and growth opportunity in Spain.

The inertia of incumbency

By any measure, Orange is enormous. With 155,000 employees supporting 265 million customers in 29 countries, the management challenge of guiding such a large enterprise must be considerable. Like many formerly fully-state owned, incumbent, fixed line operators, the former France Telecom has a certain inertia due to its heritage and ongoing regulatory and social obligations. Earlier this year, Orange reached a labour agreement with the main trade union representing it workers in France. The contract provides an average wage increase of 2.3% and offers some special incentives to support young employees who have joined the company in recent years. Orange has about 95,000 employees in France.

Given the large employee base, it may seem incongruous to think of Orange as an innovation leader, but this has clearly been the ambition of the company's management for many years. Of course some of the company's history coincides with pioneering telecommunication technologies that were developed in France. The Minitel comes to mind - the iconic online videotext service that scaled to millions of terminals across France in the years before the Web. France Telecom officially retired the Minitel service in June 2012. Today, Orange has approximately 650 employees directly in the R&D programmes and the company is involved in 100 research partnerships with universities and public laboratories in France and abroad.

Looking for start-ups

Orange Fab is the company's international accelerator or start-ups. The program, launched in 2013 and now active in 14 countries, creates commercial partnerships between chosen start-ups and business units inside of Orange. It functions as a launch pad by providing business advice as well as local and international visibility. The latest location for an Orange Fab is Belgium/Luxembourg, where the company hopes to cultivate specialists in Big Data, AI, IoT and all the hot topics of the industry. To date, Orange Fab has contributed to the development of nearly 250 start-ups worldwide.

In April, Orange and Facebook kicked off a program designed to support start-ups focused on network infrastructure development. Orange, a member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) initiated by Facebook, said this new partnership would identify and support start-ups focused on network infrastructure technology. The Orange Fab, France Telecom Track accelerator, will support and guidance from experts at Orange, TIP and Facebook, as well as facilitate collaboration and investment opportunities. The project is managed through Orange Fab France, Orange's established accelerator program for start-ups located at the Orange Gardens campus in Paris.

Expansion on its southern border

Outside its home market, Spain is perhaps the most important region of focus for Orange, where the company has the ambition to reach 14 million connected homes by the end of 2019 - a major incursion into Telefonica’s home market. Already, Orange has more fibre-connections in Spain than it does in France. Currently, a total of 21.5 million households had fibre connectivity across the group's footprint at the end of March 2017 (up 53% year on year), of which 10.0 million were in Spain, 7.4 million in France, 2.1 million in Romania (following the cross-network-sharing agreement with Telekom Romania), 1.7 million in Poland and 352,000 in Slovakia.

In Spain, despite heavy discounting from competitors since last December, Orange's overall Q1 2017 revenue grew by 8.5%, suppressing the 7.9% the group achieved in Q4 2016 and more broadly over the full year 2016 where Orange widely over performed its two closest competitors. Mobile revenue accelerated to more than 8%, driven by a 5.4% growth in the contract base, and 4.6% growth in mobile quarterly ARPU, supported by recent service upgrades, the latest on the Jazztel brand and on the Orange brand. The company also reported strong results for commercial sales in both fixed broadband with 196,000 net fibre sales for the quarter (1.806 million fibre customers at March 31, 2017) and mobile contracts with 119,000 net sales.

As of the first quarter of 2017, Orange Spain had a total of 8.2 million customers. The contract customer base grew 3.2% year on year to 11.297 million customers and the quarterly ARPU of contracts rose 4.0%. Growth was also significant in mobile services provided to other carriers, in particular the growth of MVNOs and network sharing. Fixed services rose 7.5% in the first quarter, led by continued strong revenue growth in fixed broadband (up 8.5%). Fixed broadband had 4.2 million customers at the end of March (up 5.4% year on year), and quarterly ARPU rose 3.0%. TV services also rose rapidly, with 537,000 customers at the end of March, led by the success of content offers and notably the broadcasts of football championships.

In 2015, Orange acquired Jazztel, a network operator offering broadband and triple play services in Spain, for approximately Euro 3.4 billion. With Jazztel, Orange's fibre network reached 9.6 million connectible homes as of December 31, 2016. A joint investment agreement with MasMovil in July 2016 established the second largest fixed high-speed network. The latest figures from Q1 2017 show the incumbent, Movistar (Telefonica), losing some 25,000 subscribers, while Orange, MasMovil and Vodafone each gained subscribers.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Profile of Orange, a global operation with big ambitions – Part 4


Orange SA is perhaps the global carrier with operations in the most diverse geographies and cultures. From its headquarters in Paris, Orange (formerly France Telecom) now serves 265.162,000 subscribers worldwide with mobile, broadband, fixed telephony, TV and a range of advanced enterprise services. In part 1 of this article, we looked at the company’s recent performance indicators. Part 2 discussed two growth segments for Orange: Africa and mobile money; Part 3 discussed the spirit of innovation inside Orange and its growth in Spain. Part 4 will examine forward-looking aspects of the carrier’s network architecture, especially SDN and NFV, which will be critical to building a fully-integrated, global super-carrier infrastructure. These platforms are being deployed by Orange Business Services (OBS) now, putting the carrier ahead of many industry peers.

An early mover with network virtualisation

Orange Business Services (OBS) delivers the company's enterprise portfolio over networks deployed by the group (fibre, 4G, WiFi, software defined networking). It is a truly global operation with 21,000 employees in 220 countries and territories. Orange's international IP transit network, which it calls the Open Transit Internet (OTI) network, has 24 major PoPs (12 in Europe, two in Asia, eight in North America, one in Africa and one in the Middle East); interconnects between these major PoPs run at up to 100 Gbit/s. By mid-2016, Oranges says peak traffic loads reached 4.2 Tbit/s across its OTI.

In the red-hot sector of SDN, NFV and SD-WAN, Orange has indicated on various occasions that it has been developing its own technology. Orange is a leading player in industry standards organisations and several vendor partnerships have been announced. When it comes to building the next layer of network virtualisation, the carrier has played a key role. Orange was a founding member of the network functions virtualisation (NFV) initiative that became an Industry Specification Group (ISG) within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in 2013. A key research partnership was formed with France’s the National Institute of research in Computing and Automation (INRIA) in 2015, leading to the creation of <I/O Lab>, a joint research laboratory for virtualisation, network convergence and cloud computing.

In March 2015, Orange Business Services launched an early pilot deployment of virtualised network functions for small and medium enterprises (SMBs). The pilot enabled SMBs (with up to ten sites) to test an SDN-enabled system that lets users manage their Intranet and Internet service in real-time. Users could order and customize new virtualised application services of their choice: Internet content filtering, advanced security and anti-virus. Orange used its own SDN controller to managed the virtualised services.

In mid-2016, Orange and AT&T agreed to collaborate on SDN and NFV. Later, it emerged that Orange would become the first carrier to test AT&T’s Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform. AT&T’s ECOMP has since been merged into the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) project under The Linux Foundation of which Orange is a platinum member.

Orange has also been working with MEF and TM Forum to release the first set of standard application programming interfaces (APIs) for orchestrated Carrier Ethernet services later this year. This initiative uses MEF's LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) framework and TM Forum's Open API framework to enable SDN architectures from different network service providers to interoperate with each other. There are plans to standardize 8 API definitions. This builds on the industry-agreed Open APIs developed by TM Forum members. Various other carriers are also part of this initiative, including AT&T Colt Technology Services, Comcast, Level 3, PCCW Global, TI Sparkle and Verizon.

In November 2016, Orange Business Services officially launched its Easy Go Network, which provides fully-virtualised network functions (VNF) using SDN, in 75 countries by the end of 2016. The Easy Go Network service, which underwent a year-long trial with customers, allows enterprises to instantly provision VNFs for branch offices with full digital self-service ordering, customer care and reporting functions. The service includes a plug-and-play router on site, eliminating truck rolls for more flexibility and rapid deployment. Orange says the key benefits of its Easy Go Network is that the service is on-demand and fully flexible with no upfront investment and no minimum revenue commitment. Billing is offered under a month to-month contract.

In March 2017, Orange Business announced plans integrate Riverbed SteelConnect technology into its hybrid network portfolio. The two companies are working together to develop a virtual network function (VNF) that customers will be able to deploy on universal customer premise equipment (uCPE) at their site. Full compatibility will be maintained with existing services as enterprises transition applications to the cloud. Riverbed said its SD-WAN offering, SteelConnect, provides an intelligent and simplified approach to designing, deploying and managing hybrid networks. Application performance is improved by real-time routing using the optimum links available between different networks. SteelConnect also enables zero-touch provisioning, allowing enterprises to set-up global networks quickly with easy management, providing a cost effective and superior end user experience. The first Orange pilot customers will be connected during the second quarter 2017 using managed SteelConnect appliances. The VNF of the service is scheduled to be available at the end of 2017. This will provide full virtualisation and orchestration managed through an easy-to-use ‘self-care’ portal to administer and prioritise applications.

Easy Go brings integration opportunities

For many years, Orange Business Services has been delivering MPLS WAN services for multinational with operations throughout the globe. Often, these have been complex WAN solutions that integrate all an organisation's voice, video conferencing and data communications with QoS provided for mission-critical applications.  For instance, OBS manages a private cloud on behalf of the European Space Agency, linking eight sites across the continent over a converged IP/MPLS infrastructure.  Another such high-profile project is the private IP/MPLS network that OBS manages on behalf of the European Commission, linking more than 250 sites across all EU member nations.

With SD-WAN, OBS now has the possibility of integrating access from other carriers. In May, OBS signed a four-year contract with Heraeus, a leading technology group headquartered in Hanau, Germany to centralize all services on a homogenous and stable network linking Heraeus' 110 locations around the world. Under the contract, Heraeus will unify all services currently provided by almost 100 different providers under Orange Business Services. While the announcement did not specify which WAN technologies would be put to use, it is likely that the new SD-WAN implementation will be employed in locations where an IP/MPLS node is not viable either from a local access perspective or simply for economics.

Orange remains a Layer 1 network operator with significant terrestrial fibre, subsea resources

It should be noted that while many carriers may offer virtualised network services such as Easy Go, Orange continues to operate a very significant fibre network both in Europe and internationally (18,000 km), not to mention one of the largest IP/MPLS backbones and conventional VPN services for multinational organisations.

Since the earliest days to telecom, the group has been involved in long-haul cables. Currently, Orange is involved in over 40 undersea fibre cables and consortia projects representing some 450,000 km of fibre cables. One such project is the recently commissioned SE-ME-WE5 cable linking Marseille to Singapore. Orange was one of the lead consortium members.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

OIF approves virtual transport network service IA

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), which met recently in Ljubljana, Slovenia for a quarterly technical committee conference, announced that it has approved an implementation agreement (IA) for an optical virtual transport network service (VTNS) and also made progress on the 400G-ZR project.


A virtual transport network service (VTNS) constitutes the creation and delivery of a virtual network (VN) by a provider to a user based on the virtualisation of transport network resources. VNs can be dynamically created, deleted or modified, while users are able to perform connection management, monitoring and protection within the VN.

In specifying the new VTNS IA, OIF aims to identify the requirements and characteristics of different virtual network service types, such as dynamic and static behaviours. The new IA is also intended to define the attributes and parameters required for these service types and the requirements for support of service recovery and OAM.

The OIF noted that different types of VTNS could be associated with operators offering, for example, bandwidth-on-demand (BoD) services, network-as-a-service (NaaS) or network slicing for 5G networking.

400G-ZR update

The OIF's 400G-ZR interoperability project, launched in November 2016, was formed to address both 400 Gbit/s ZR and short-reach DWDM multi-vendor interoperability requirements, such as might be required for cloud-scale data centre interconnect (DCI) applications. It noted that the project has now received 10 technical contributions relating to areas including power consumption of DSP, FEC proposals, and experimental demonstrations.

In addition, it was announced that at the recent quarterly meeting the OIF elected Tad Hofmeister of Google to its board of directors, filling a vacant seat on the board.

GTT establishes Enterprise, Carrier, EMEA Divisions

GTT Communications, a global cloud networking provider to multinational clients, which in January completed the acquisition of Hibernia Networks, announced it has established three new divisions - Enterprise, Carrier and EMEA - intended to accelerate sales growth and enhance services for customers.

Each of the new divisions is responsible for the primary customer experience functions, including sales, quoting, ordering, service delivery and collections.

In conjunction with forming the new divisions, GTT has appointed three division presidents:

1.         Eric Warren is to lead the Enterprise division, including all enterprise customers across the Americas and U.S. government clients; Mr. Warren recently joined GTT having previously held senior executive roles at companies including Windstream and tw telecom.

2.         Jeff Beer will lead the Carrier division, including all carrier accounts in the Americas and GTT's largest web-centric clients; Mr. Beer has held a number of executive roles at GTT during the past eight years, having joined the company via its acquisition of Tinet.

3.         Martin Ford is to head the EMEA division, encompassing enterprise clients in EMEA and carrier clients across EMEA and APAC; Mr. Ford joined GTT's leadership team through its acquisition of Hibernia Networks, and previously served with Level 3.

  • GTT has recently announced the launch of Optical Transport and Managed SD-WAN services. The Optical Transport offering is designed to provide customers with scalable bandwidth and low latency connectivity for the transport of data and cloud-based applications between financial markets, data centres, media hubs and service provider networks.
  • The Managed SD-WAN service, using technology from VeloCloud, offers features including dynamic bandwidth management, optimised application performance and the ability to integrate network technologies into the corporate WAN.
  • Hibernia Networks and GTT announced in early January this year the completion of the transaction under which GTT acquired Hibernia. The companies originally announced a transaction in early November 2016, through which GTT was to purchase Hibernia for $590 million, including $515 million in cash and approximately 3.3 million shares of GTT common stock valued at around $75 million.

Profile of Orange, a global operation with big ambitions, slow, steady growth – Part 2


Orange is perhaps the global carrier with operations in the most diverse geographies and cultures. From its headquarters in Paris, Orange (formerly France Telecom) now serves 265.162,000 subscribers worldwide with mobile, broadband, fixed telephony, TV and a range of advanced enterprise services. Part 1 covered the company’s recent performance indicators, this part will cover two growth segments for Orange: Africa and mobile money.

Ambitions for Africa

Orange currently is the No.1 or No.2 mobile network by market share in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 120 million customers. As of last August, Orange had launched 4G in 9 of these countries, with network upgrades planned or underway in all of these markets. The stated ambition is for Orange revenue in Africa and the Middle East to grow 20% over the 2015 to 2018 time frame. For 2016, Orange reported Euro 5.2 billion in revenue from Africa and Middle East (12% of the group total). The company views this region as a strategic priority given the young and growing population, as well as the lower mobile penetration and broadband adoption rates compared with developed markets in Europe.

One obstacle to overcome in the region is the lack of financial services for large segments of the population. For the past few years, Orange is striving to develop a mobile money service that could turn this situation into a strategic differentiator for its mobile networks. Orange Money is its flagship capability for money transfers and mobile financial services, currently available in 17 countries and with more than 31 million customers. To manage risk associated with its electronic money operations, Orange has set up a dedicated organization, CECOM, based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. CECOM reports to the Orange Group and provides second-level control for the Orange Money business, which exceeded one billion Euros of transactions in June 2016.

For many subscribers, Orange Money is their first experience with an electronic bank but, over time, Orange Money is moving beyond basic banking. Earlier this year, Orange Money announced a partnership with Vivo Energy that enables customers to cash in and cash out money from their Orange Money account and pay in any of the 1,000+ Shell service stations operated by Vivo Energy. The services are already available in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar. Orange Money expects to have this operational across the rest of its common footprint by mid-2017.

The latest project in Africa is the expansion of the Orange brand in May 2017 to Liberia, where the former Cellcom Liberia has just become Orange Liberia. This was accomplished via acquisition of the Liberian operator Cellcom by Orange Côte d’Ivoire. Cellcom Liberia, founded in 2004, claimed over 1.6 million customers at the end of February 2017. The Republic of Liberia, which has a population of about 4.5 million, has a relatively low mobile penetration rate of 70%. Cellcom Liberia launched its 4G LTE network last year, with the construction of 29 sites. Now that it has taken over operations, Orange plans to accelerate the 4G network upgrade across the country, including in areas that are still awaiting basic telecom services. Approximately three-quarters of the population resides outside of the capital city of Monrovia.

Previously, in 2016 Orange acquired the second largest mobile operator in Burkina Faso from Airtel. Burkina Faso, with a population of approximately 18 million, has one of the strongest growth rates (5.8%) in the Economic Community of West African States, and a mobile penetration rate of about 80% as of last year. The deal with Airtel brought 4.6 million customers.

Also in 2016, the Orange brand replaced the Méditel brand in Morocco. Orange’s Moroccan subsidiary had 14.2 million customers at the end of September 2016, the second largest total within the group’s Middle East and African footprint, after Orange Egypt, and contributing close to 10% of its revenue in this region. The group's interest in Morocco goes back to 2010, when France Telecom invested Euro 640 million to acquire a 40% stake in Méditel. The Méditel network includes more than 5,400 km of optical fibre and more than 4,000 radio sites throughout the kingdom.

However, despite the many new markets and growing subscriber counts, the volatility of political and economic conditions in Africa always remains a worry. Over the past year, Orange said it was impacted by difficult conditions in Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Orange Brings mobile banking from Africa to Europe

Interestingly, several years after launching its Orange mobile banking service in African markets, Orange is now ready to bring it to Europe. In October 2014, Orange Finanse was introduced in Poland in partnership with mBank, the fourth largest retail bank. The company says Poland is where NFC (near field communication) has developed most fully in Europe, with 80% of payment terminals already equipped for contactless payments and more than 3 million users routinely using mobile payment services (Poland has a population of about 38 million).

Starting in July, Orange is launching a mobile bank for its home market of France. Launch materials distributed to the press state this new business is organised as Orange Bank SA, with capital of Euro 297,575,712 and a commercial relationship with Visa. In addition to standard banking services, Orange will provide money transfers via SMS, as well as a virtual assistant driven by artificial intelligence. Ultimately, Orange Bank aims to have more than 2 million customers in France, where it currently has around 30 million mobile users. Orange's ambition is to reach Euro 400 million in revenue in 2018 in the financial services field across all markets.

Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange has commented that the commercial launch of Orange Bank for the general public in July marks an important new chapter in the group's history, with Orange also a bank that places customer experience at the heart of its business model. He added that Orange Bank will build on the professional skills of its banking experts, the disruptive capability of its partnerships with start-ups and the traditional assets of Orange: its distribution network, its expertise in digital services and financial strength. By bringing together these different sources of energy, it aims to meet the expectations of customers in a way that will enable it to adapt as their needs evolve.

How to Scale IoT?

There are two stages to scaling IoT solutions, says Mobeen Khan, IoT Strategy& Project Management, AT&T.  The first happens during the prototyping and second when you've figured out what you are going to build and now need to deploy hundreds of thousands of end devices.

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