Monday, July 24, 2017

Nutanix takes a pass at the public cloud, expanding its market potential

Nutanix, the Silicon Valley-based networking startup famous for its Hyperconverged, enterprise cloud platforms, has just entered into a strategic partnership with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Nutanix has grown rapidly from its founding in 2009 to expected FY 2017 revenues of over $540 million by offering a single OS for integrating compute, storage and network stacks for scale-out applications. The Nutanix solution makes it easy for enterprises to quickly rollout the server/storage/networking needed for a private cloud. The new GCP alliance marks a broadening of the company's focus to include hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are buzz words being used by analysts, vendors, service providers and journalists alike. Everyone seems to be aboard even if it raises security concerns about network perimeters. Gary Gauba, chief enterprise relationship officer and president, advanced solutions group, CenturyLink's IT and Managed Services business unit, has commented, 'I see the next decade as the ‘decade of coexistence’ where there will be a shift of enterprise workloads spread across both traditional environments and public/private multi-clouds'.

In practical terms, Nutanix will now support a single control plane for managing applications between GCP and Nutanix cloud environments. Nutanix says that traditional and cloud-native applications can be provisioned into GCP or Nutanix cloud environments with a single click, and migrated between the two cloud environments seamlessly. Nutanix customers will also be able to natively extend their data centre environments into GCP, enabling 'lift-and-shift' operations between private and public clouds. For example, enterprises could leverage a Xi Cloud services disaster recovery running in GCP, and then run BigQuery analytics against the full application data set without expensive, repetitive data migration operations. The Nutanix hybrid cloud vision will also bring support for Kubernetes for container-based deployments.

In addition, Google and Nutanix have agreed to collaborate on Internet of Things (IoT) use-cases. The idea is to position Nutanix as an 'intelligent edge' for GCP-based IoT applications running Google's TensorFlow silicon for edge processing, while training machine learning models and running analytics on the processed metadata in GCP. The companies showed a prototype at the Nutanix NEXT conference held this week in Washington DC.

Nutanix hybrid cloud could be extended to Azure or AWS

Nutanix said its broadened strategy could also enable its Enterprise Cloud Software to be run throughout multi-cloud deployments, including on-premises with platforms from IBM, Dell EMC, Lenovo, Cisco and HPE in the cloud via AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Azure, or natively with Nutanix Xi Cloud Services.

The Nutanix enterprise cloud platform is being augmented with something called Nutanix Calm, which abstracts application environments from the underlying infrastructure and recommends the right cloud for the right workload. The idea is to provide a marketplace of application deployment blueprints and corresponding cloud services.

The company is also introducing Nutanix Xi Cloud Services, which will let customers provision and consume Nutanix infrastructure on demand. Nutanix said this can be set-up within minutes, and that it is working with strategic cloud providers internationally (names not disclosed). The service would need to meet the data provenance requirements of various countries and could be especially useful as a disaster recovery option for Nutanix on-premises customers.

Signs of progress at Nutanix

For its most recently completed third quarter of fiscal 2017, ended April 30, Nutanix reported total revenue of $191.8 million, up 67% year-over-year, with billings amounting to $234.1 million, growing 47% year on year. This puts Nutanix on an annual run rate that will soon reach the $1 billion mark. For Q3, Nutanix posted a GAAP net loss of $112.0 million, compared to a net loss of $46.8 million in Q3 fiscal 2016. This amounted to a GAAP net loss per share of 78c, compared to a net loss per share of 39c in Q3 fiscal 2016. It had $350.3 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand.

Nutanix ended the third quarter of fiscal 2017 with 6,172 end-customers, adding approximately 790 new end-customers during the quarter. Third quarter customer wins included Caterpillar, KYOCERA Communication Systems, MobileIron, SAIC Volkswagen, Société Générale and Sprint. In addition, Nutanix states it has penetrated 521 of the Global 2000 enterprises, has 269 customers with lifetime bookings of $1-3 million, 38% of bookings come from international customers and 71% of revenues come from repeat customers, and gross margin of 58.4%. Nutanix calculates that it has $463 million in deferred revenue potential.

Currently, Nutanix has about 2,672 employees, up from 1,798 a year ago, with around 810 in R&D.

New partnerships with IBM, HPE and Cisco widens reach on x86 servers

Nutanix has had an OEM relationship with Dell since 2014, and this week, Nutanix and Dell EMC confirmed an expansion of their collaboration. In 2015, Nutanix formed an OEM partnership with Lenovo. In May 2017, Nutanix and IBM announced a multi-year initiative to combine Nutanix's Enterprise Cloud Platform software with IBM Power Systems as a turnkey hyper-converged solution for critical workloads in large enterprises. The partnership aims to deliver a full-stack combination with built-in AHV virtualisation that is targeted at cognitive workloads, including big data, machine learning and AI. The promise is a public cloud-like experience for customers of IBM Power-based systems.

Also in May 2017, Nutanix announced that its Enterprise Cloud Platform software will be available as a term-based license on Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) ProLiant rack mount servers and Cisco UCS B-series blade servers, adding to previously announced support for the Cisco UCS C-series platform.

With these deals, the Nutanix stack is now available directly from the company on an x86 appliance, or on platforms from four of the leading server vendors, which collectively account for over 50% of the x86 server business. And with the new Google Cloud Platform (GCP) partnership and the launch of its own cloud services, Nutanix now has a very broad avenue to market.

Cable ONE Business Looks to Mississippi

Phoenix-based Cable ONE Business announced that it has identified Mississippi as a leading contender for the next launch of its 'Piranha Fiber - Ferociously Fast Internet' service, which offers up to 2 Gbit/s symmetrical Internet speed.

Cable ONE noted that Piranha Fiber is currently available in select markets including Fargo, North Dakota and Norfolk, Nebraska. The company stated that over the past 5 years it has invested around $75 million in its Mississippi network.

The company's Internet service is delivered over a PON infrastructure that combines key elements of coax and fibre networks. Benefits of the design include service delivered over a reliable fibre-based architecture and shared bandwidth, which allows Cable ONE Business to both extend infrastructure costs over a wider customer base and offer service at a cost that is more affordable for small businesses.

The operator offers a range of Piranha Fiber Internet plans, beginning with 50 Mbit/s bandwidth and scaling up to 2 Gbit/s.

Cable ONE has recently announced the introduction of its Elite Business Internet service offering up to 500 Mbit/s download and 50 Mbit/s upload speeds in a number of markets in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Idaho and Arizona.


* Earlier this year, the company announced the launch of a low-bandwidth Ethernet service, EZ Ethernet, for SMBs served by its coax network. EZ Ethernet offers symmetrical bandwidth options of 3, 5 and 10 Mbit/s.

* Cable ONE Business, a division of Cable ONE, the seventh-largest cable company in the U.S., provides telecommunications solutions to local businesses in 21 states. It claims to serve 800,000 residential and commercial customers in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington. The company focuses on serving businesses in non-metropolitan markets.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Intelsat seeks opportunity through OneWeb, only to be disappointed

by James E. Carroll

From its inception in August 1964, Intelsat has been at the forefront of satellite communications. It has also always been an organisation governed by considerable complexity. Intelsat's original structure was as an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) with 11 participating countries. Over the decades, hundreds of earth stations were built across the planet to receive and transmit signals from dozens of Intelsat satellites in orbit. Though its charter was that of a commercial endeavour, eventually Intelsat came to be governed by 100 member countries and its decision-making process became every bit as complex as if it were an agency of the United Nations. By the turn of the millennium, the public corporatisation movement was in full swing across the telecoms sector as state-owned carriers lost their monopoly status and were forced to attract private-sector investors and compete in the market. For the space sector, privitisation and competition also became mandates, and so in 2001 Intelsat transitioned into a publicly-traded company. Since then, it has experienced a very tumultuous period of reorganisations, buyouts, mergers and public relisting. Some of these bumps-in-the-road were covered in the first part of this article.

Building and launching satellites is extremely capital intensive. Owning and operating hundreds of earth stations in over 150 countries likewise requires a high operating expense budget. After decades in operation, Intelsat is laden with $14.523 billion of debt with many long-term bond holders. On a positive note, the company's revenue breakdown is well balanced: 39% for network service; 42% for media revenue; 17% for government revenue. Customer contracts in each of these segments are predictable and stable. However, though its contracted backlog amounts to $8.5 billion (future revenue under existing contracts), the company has struggled to convince investors that its best days are still ahead. Discounting for the heavy debt load, Intelsat’s market capitalisation is only $391.2 million. There are many cloud-focused software newcomers in Silicon Valley with higher market valuations, but nowhere near the potential of impacting so many people across the globe as Intelsat.

Looking for growth

Some might see Intelsat as a stodgy veteran with a history dating back to the Apollo moon shot era, but its current crop of EPIC Next Generation satellites has accelerated the pace of satellite design innovation. The new designs offer far more capacity, flexibility and potential lifespan than has been achieved to date. As the legacy satellite fleet reaches retirement, the new birds should easily absorb all the traffic from existing contracts while offering plenty of capacity for new applications such as in-flight connectivity for aircraft, mobile backhaul and broadband connectivity in remote locations.

Meanwhile, testing last autumn revealed that the Intelsat EPICNG  platform is exceeding its performance expectations. Specifically, Intelsat cited a 165% to 330% increase in spectral efficiency with ground platforms and modem technologies, and up to a 300% improvement in throughput using next generation antenna technology with its new EPICNG high-throughput satellite (HTS) platform.

The company said testing also confirmed that the EPICNG platform exceeds performance expectations transmitting to and from a flat-panel antenna designed for a new class of small remotely piloted aircraft. Now that it has four EPICNG  satellites in orbit and proven performance results from live testing, Intelsat's business trajectory should be reassuring to investors interested in space. But there is a new wave of hot start-ups in the space race that are gaining attention and investments.

OneWeb enters the scene

In January 2015, Richard Branson made headlines worldwide by announcing audacious plans to build, launch and operate the world's largest satellite network using Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne space plane to put 648 small satellites into low earth orbit. OneWeb (previously WorldVu Satellite) initially announced $500 million in financial backing by the Virgin Group and Arianespace. Intelsat also announced an equity investment in the firm. The venture recruited Greg Wyler, who founded O3b Networks in 2007, as its leader. O3b Networks (the 'other 3 billion' people without Internet access). and which was recently acquired by SES, operates a constellation of 12 high throughput satellites (HTS) in a medium earth orbit (MEO) around 8,000 km from the Earth. O3b offers customers a 'fibre in the sky' solution, with each of the constellation's beams capable of delivering up to 1.6 Gbit/s of throughput at a low latency of less than 150 milliseconds, a significant improvement over geostationary connectivity. OneWeb now aims to replicate and expand on O3b's success by using hundreds of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites instead of MEO satellites.

In June 2015, following a bidding competition, OneWeb selected Airbus Defence and Space for the construction of its broadband Internet satellites. The companies set an aggressive timeline to get its first satellites in orbit by the end of 2017 – an unprecedented pace. In December 2016, OneWeb raised $1 billion from SoftBank Group and $200 million from existing investors. Earlier this year, OneWeb announced it expected to sell all its capacity by launch time. The only announced capacity sold was for a joint Gogo and Intelsat venture. OneWeb has gone on to suggest that it might quadruple the size of its already massive satellite constellation to over 2,500 transmitting units in orbit.

Intelsat sees an opportunity, only to be disappointed

On February 28, 2017, Intelsat and OneWeb agreed to merge in a share-for-share transaction. Under the deal, SoftBank was to invest $1.7 billion in newly issued common and preferred shares of the combined company. This provided for debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders. The stated goal was to reduce Intelsat's debt by approximately $3.6 billion via this $1.7 billion investment. From a technology perspective, the deal sought to integrate OneWeb's LEO satellite constellation with Intelsat’s global scale, terrestrial infrastructure and GEO satellite network.

In June, after several rounds of negotiations, the merger talks collapsed. The apparent reason was that Intelsat bondholders were unsatisfied with Softbank's offer to pay only a portion of the face value of their notes. Concerning the collapsed merger, Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said:

-    "There were many stakeholders’ interests that needed to be satisfied in this complex transaction. We are disappointed that our bondholders were unwilling to accept the terms of the exchange offers presented over the course of this process. Even without a merger of our companies, the pre-existing commercial agreement among Intelsat, OneWeb and SoftBank will continue. Under this agreement, I plan to jointly develop integrated solutions utilising both fleets and to act as a sub-distributor to SoftBank for the attractive application segments of mobility, energy, government and connected car".

On June-22nd, the FCC approved a OneWeb's request to access the U.S. satellite market. Specifically, the FCC approved OneWeb proposal to access the U.S. market using a global network of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands.

In conclusion, this week’s successful launch of Intelsat 35e is a positive development for Intelsat even though its proposed merger with OneWeb has been withdrawn. OneWeb's LEO satellites would benefit from Intelsat’s GEO capacity, and Intelsat would be rejuvenated by opportunities such as connected cars.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Huawei unveils FastReach solution

Huawei, at its recent User Group Meeting held in Xi'an, China, released the new FastReach solution, designed to enable operators to quickly and cost-effectively build and launch broadband networks and improve return on investment.

Huawei's FastReach solution is designed to help operators build broadband networks more quickly and is claimed to reduce site deployment costs by up to 70%. In addition, operators can establish operational environments faster to improve the installation rates of home broadband users, and thereby accelerate ROI.

Overall, the new Huawei solution is designed to speed network construction to help improve FTTx economics leveraging advanced engineering, by enabling infrastructure synergy, and offering enhanced O&M tools.

Huawei's model for rapid broadband network construction encompasses:

1.         Implementing deployment synergy across broadband networks and power facilities and enabling fast fibre routing.

2.         Deploying mini OLTs and wireless base stations within the same cabinet or at the same site to allow operators to reuse infrastructure resources on live networks.

3.         Performing acceptance processes via smartphone apps and without the need for meters to help ensure intelligent, automated and rapid acceptance for optical distribution networks (ODNs), and thus further improve network construction and deployment efficiency.
Huawei's FastReach solution features three core components: mini operations support system (OSS), a number provisioning map, and an app for integrated installation and O&M. These components are designed to enable operators to quickly develop broadband service operations, perform targeted development of broadband users, and improve installation rates. Huawei noted that a lightweight, mini OSS for number provisioning can be deployed in as little as three months.

Additionally, number provisioning maps provide network resource information in different dimensions, including for global position, regional position and building dimensions, allowing operators to create service packages and strategies based on the bandwidth resources available.

The smartphone app for integrated installation, maintenance and operation enables mobility for staff, so that installation and maintenance personnel can promote service packages to users during installation and maintenance tasks.

Describing the new offering, Guo Dazheng, GM of Huawei's network SingleOSS domain, said, "The biggest obstacle hindering the development of emerging markets is excessively low broadband ROI… Huawei believes that by supporting fast network construction and operation, the FastReach solution can help operators develop the broadband user base rapidly and increase installation rates…".


BTL picks Huawei Marine SEUL cable in Belize

Huawei Marine and Belize Telemedia (BTL), the main telecoms operator in the country, announced the delivery of BTL's Strategic Evolution Underwater Link (SEUL) project, bringing optical submarine cable connectivity to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, the largest island of Belize.

Spanning over 23 km from the Belize mainland to the Caye, the new optical link will support the delivery of high speed broadband to the island.

A joint project by Belize Telemedia and Huawei Marine, the new cable system represents a key milestone in BTL's previously announced four-year $100 million investment program to transform and modernise the country's mobile and landline infrastructure. With the installation of the submarine cable, BTL will be able to offer its DigiNet Broadband product, with speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s, to customers on the island of Ambergris Caye.

BTL noted that in June of this year its CEO Rochus Schreiber met with Daniel Guerrero, the mayor of San Pedro Town, to discuss the coordination of efforts for future fibre installation works and the forthcoming DigiNet service offers. BTL expects to begin offering residents and businesses on the island faster, more reliable and affordable fibre-based broadband from August 2017.

BTL is the leading telecoms provider in Belize, offering mobile (via the DigiCell brand), landline and broadband services to the residential and commercial markets, with full reach throughout the country. The company is owned 63% by the government of Belize, with the remaining shares held by domestic institutional investors and individuals.

Regarding the project, BTL CEO Rochus Schreiber, commented, "The SEUL project is an important element of BTL's transformative Network Evolution Plan, and its delivery permits high-speed network connection between Belize and the island of Ambergris Caye, which will significantly enhance the prospects for economic development on the Caye… and eventually throughout the country".


Australia's nbn selects ADTRAN

ADTRAN announced the signing of a supply agreement covering software, hardware and services with nbn, the company building the national wholesale broadband network in Australia, to support the expansion of high-speed broadband access to the citizens across Australia.

ADTRAN noted that a number of key milestones have been completed, and that as part of this work with nbn it has successfully completed a GPON network interoperability proof-of-concept program. In addition, ADTRAN IT specialists have been working in a collaborative development process with the nbn IT team to implement standards-based, multi-vendor DPU management solution utilising an open microservices architecture.

ADTRAN's Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) solutions combine web-scale technology with open-source platforms and are designed to facilitate innovation in multi-technology, multi-vendor environments. SD-Access releases control and management functions from the underlying network elements, enabling a more flexible and agile services delivery framework. This flexibility leverages an open microservices architecture that helps network operations and IT development teams work together.

nbn is building a new and upgraded wholesale broadband network to provide communities across Australia with access to fast broadband service from retail service providers. The company is aiming to connect 8 million homes and businesses by 2020. nbn recently announced that one-in-two Australians were able to connect to the nbn network, with more than 5.7 million homes and businesses able to order a service from their retail provider as it continued to add up to 100,000 new properties to its footprint each week.

Commenting on the agreement, nbn's chief network deployment officer Kathrine Dyer said, "The rollout of the nbn network is one of the most complex and ambitious telecoms projects to be undertaken… nbn is working with ADTRAN on bringing the network into reality, including working together on its fibre-to-the-kerb/curb (FTTK/C) network that is set to serve more than one million homes and businesses by 2020".

Dell'Oro estimates cumulative $6bn 5G RAN market to '21

Dell'Oro Group finds in its latest Mobile RAN 5-year Forecast Report that while overall RAN market conditions are expected to remain challenging in the near-term, growing adoption of LTE small cells and 5G macro technologies will drive a return to market growth towards the end of the forecast period, and predicts that cumulative 5G RAN investment will exceed $6 billion by 2021.

Further highlights from Dell'Oro's mobile RAN forecast report include:

1.         LTE and 5G small cell RAN revenue is expected to increase 4-fold over the forecast period to 2021.

2.         Millimetre-wave technology is expected to account for less than 5% of the overall 5G equipment market by 2021.

3.         Almost half of 5G RAN market revenue will feature C-RAN and cloud-RAN architectures by 2021.

Dell'Oro notes that cumulative revenue for the total RAN market between 2017 and 2021 looks set to experience the weakest five-year period since it began tracking the market in 2000.

Regarding the report, Stefan Pongratz, senior director at Dell'Oro Group, said:

"A stronger focus than initially envisioned on the sub-3 and -6 GHz 5G macro layers, coupled with a robust outlook for LTE small cells, form the basis for a more optimistic view of the overall RAN market in the outer part of the forecast".

"Although the IoT impact on the RAN market remains highly uncertain, the demand for enhanced mobile broadband is expected to remain robust, resulting in strong 5G macro uptake in the advanced mobile broadband markets, with China, Japan, Korea, and North America accounting for more than 90% of the 5G market by (2021)".


Equinix appoints Charles Meyers as president, strategy, services & innovation

Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company, has announced the appointment of Charles Meyers to the newly created role of president of Strategy, Services and Innovation, effective August 1st, responsible for leading the strategic business teams supporting the company's next phase of growth as it focuses on addressing the changing needs of customers and partners.

Encompassed within the new Strategy, Services and Innovation unit are the office of the CTO, business development, product management and product engineering. The unit also includes new business teams that are being formed to position Equinix for the future by: optimising the company's position as a strategic enabler of cloud services; identifying key growth areas that align to its long-term strategy; and evaluating and translating key market, competitive and technology trends into actionable business requirements.

Equinix noted that as the leader of the new Strategy, Services and Innovation group, Mr. Meyers, who currently serves as COO, will shift his focus from the core operations of the business to ensuring that Equinix keeps pace with the changing customer requirements in an increasingly 'cloud-first' world. He will also focus on identifying key growth areas and applying expertise and resources to addressing these opportunities while aligning them with the company's long-term strategy. He will report to CEO Steve Smith.

Charles Meyers joined Equinix in 2010 as president of the Americas region; in 2013, he was promoted to the role of COO, where he has overseen global sales, marketing, operations and client services activities. In this role, Mr. Meyers has played a key role in enhancing Equinix's operating disciplines globally, identifying and driving best practices, and delivering a more consistent global experience for customers.


6WIND and ALAXALA expand 10-year partnership

6WIND, a supplier of high-performance networking software, announced that Japan-based ALAXALA, a networking company delivering switching and routing technologies and a joint venture between Hitachi and NEC, has expanded the existing 10-year partnership to increase performance for ALAXALA's carrier grade switch and router products.

6WIND noted that over the past decade ALAXALA has based its networking equipment on 6WIND's 6WINDGate packet processing software. 6WINDGate is designed to meet the feature, performance and capacity requirements of ALAXALA switches and routers that support the operations of carriers/ISPs and provide core functions in the backbone networks of large enterprise and public systems.

To enhance packet processing capacity and performance across its next-generation of telecom networking solutions, ALAXALA is expanding its partnership with 6WIND to encompass support for new generation multi-core network processors and additional software modules. In addition to 6WIND's software, ALAXALA is able to leverage 6WIND's network software design skills, software development capabilities and licensed support.

Under the extended partnership, ALAXALA gains access to the following 6WIND software and capabilities including: networking performance acceleration and portability; accelerated Layer 2 to 4 networking stacks for application performance and portability across hardware platforms; and scalable software that supports a full range of products to facilitate ease-of-use.


* 6WIND recently announced that its Turbo IPsec network software could be combined with the new Intel Processor Scalable family and Xeon Platinum 8170 processors to meet the demands of data centre and managed network operators seeking to address performance-oriented applications.

6WIND Turbo IPsec is a high-performance, ready-to-use IPsecurity VPN software designed to be deployed in bare metal environments or as a virtual machine on COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) servers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MEF launches initiative to define and orchestrate SD-WAN services

The MEF announced it is extending its work to standardise SD-WAN managed services, and is defining SD-WAN service terminology, components and implementations in the context of its LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) Reference Architecture and Framework (MEF 55).

The MEF initiative is intended to ensure the consistency of performance, policy and security of SD-WAN services orchestrated across multiple provider networks leveraging open LSO APIs.

Key MEF SD-WAN initiatives and deliverables

SD-WAN service implementations

  • MEF's established OpenCS (Open Connectivity Services) SD-WAN Project is currently focused on delivering use cases and business requirements to ensure that open standard LSO APIs can enable orchestration of SD-WAN managed services across multi-provider, multi-vendor implementations. The MEF community has agreed on the first six SD-WAN managed services use cases.
  • The OpenCS SD-WAN project will also deliver a set of LSO APIs designed to enable consistent SD-WAN assurance, application performance and security policies, to include telemetry data feeding back into LSO analytic platforms for various AI automated use cases.
  • The OpenCS SD-WAN project is led by Riverbed and VeloCloud Networks, with contributions from Amartus, Cox, Fujitsu Network Communications, GBI, Huawei, and Nokia/Nuage. Silver Peak and Versa Networks have joined as MEF members to contribute to the SD-WAN work.
SD-WAN market education

  • MEF recently created the SD-WAN Market Education Project to explain its position on SD-WAN and how it aligns with other initiatives related to orchestrated Layer 1-7 services enabled by LSO APIs. As part of this program, it has released the white paper 'Understanding SD-WAN Managed Services: Service Components, MEF LSO Reference Architecture, and Use Cases'.


A critical launch for Intelsat's EPIC NG satellites – Part 1

After two scrubbed launch attempts, SpaceX successfully launched the heavy Intelsat 35e EPIC Next Generation satellite to geosynchronous orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX, which did not attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket onto a drone ship due to the mission requirements, has now completed ten launches this year and three in the past 13 days.

For Intelsat, the successful launch is especially good news. With over $14 billion in debt and a market capitalisation of under $400 million (its shares are currently trading in the $3 range) Intelsat is racing to migrate customers off an aging fleet of legacy satellites and onto its EPIC NG satellites. After the launch, Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat, stated that the successful launch of Intelsat 35e was a major milestone in its business plan for 2017, furthering the footprint and resilience of Intelsat's EPIC NG infrastructure.

These new satellites are the future of Intelsat, at least that is the plan now that a previously announced plan to merge with OneWeb, a hot new venture backed by Softbank, the Virgin Group, Airbus, Cocacola, Qualcomm and others, was unexpectedly dropped last month. OneWeb aims to transform space communications with hundreds of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Merging with Intelsat would bring the possibility of combining LEO and GEO satellite constellations. The deal was also expected to bring in much needed cash to Intelsat, which for now really needs its EPIC NG satellites to meet or exceed its technical and economic expectations.

Intelsat EPIC Next Generation

The newly-launched Intelsat 35e satellite is the fourth of seven planned EPIC NG high throughput satellites. Intelsat 29e, launched in January 2016 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, brings high throughput capacity in both C- and Ku-band over the Americas and North Atlantic Ocean region.

Intelsat 32e

Intelsat 32e, launched February 2017 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, while part of the EPIC fleet, is operated by Intelsat on behalf of SKY Brasil.

Intelsat 33e

Intelsat 33e, launched in August 2016 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, brings high throughput capacity in both C- and Ku-band to the Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia regions from 60°E. Customers include maritime broadband providers GEE, Speedcast and Marlink; in-flight providers Gogo and Panasonic Avionics, a Pakistan ISP called SuperNet, Telkom South Africa, Orange Cameroon, IP Planet, Vodacom, Djibouti Telecom and Africell RDC SPRL, Russian network service providers Romantis and RuSat and several TV and radio broadcasting companies, including Television and Radio Broadcasting of Armenia and MultiChoice of South Africa.

Intelsat 35e

Intelsat 35e will cover the Americas, Europe and sub-Sahara Africa from the 34.5° west longitude. It carries a unique payload of C-band wide- and spot-beams for applications including wireless backhaul, enterprise and mobility services. A customised high power wide beam will be used for DTH service delivery by Canal+, with additional confirmed customers including Orange, INWI, Tele Greenland, Sonatel, Marlink, Speedcast, ETECSA and eProcess.

Intelsat 37e

Intelsat 37e is scheduled for launch in August 2017 from French Guuiana aboard an Arianne 5 launch vehicle. Its orbital location has not yet been listed.

Two additional satellites in the EPIC NG line have been mentioned but so far the company has not reported a production contract, a launch partner contract or even a timeline for when these might enter service.

Intelsat first unveiled its EpicNG platform in 2012. It is based on a new approach to satellite and network architecture utilising multiple frequency bands, wide beams, spot beams and frequency reuse technology. Epic NG is the company's next generation of satellites, promising higher throughputs and lower cost per bit. It will be a complementary overlay to the company's existing constellation of satellites and global IntelsatONE terrestrial network.

Intelsat’s Epic NG satellites were designed and manufactured by Boeing on the Boeing 702MP satellite bus, a platform that weighs up to 6,100 kg (13,400 lb) and supports power outputs from 3 to 18 kW. Compatible launch rockets for the Boeing 702MP include the Atlas V, Ariane 5, Delta IV, Falcon 9, Proton and Sea Launch systems, although for the EPIC program Intelsat has contracted with Ariane Space and SpaceX. The EPIC satellites have a design life of 15 years, so the current generation of Intelsat satellites could remain in commercial service until the early 2030s if they have not been superseded by other platforms.

Company profile and its legacy fleet

Intelsat was founded in 1964 as an inter-government organisation for managing the new field of space communications. Its first satellite went into service over the north Atlantic a year later. In July 2001, Intelsat became a private company. In 2005, it was acquired for $3.1 billion by four private equity firms: Madison Dearborn Partners, Apax Partners, Permira and Apollo Global Management. In 2006, Intelsat acquired PanAmSat, then the largest satellite carrier of TV channels, in a deal valued at $4.3 billion. In 2013, Intelsat was relisted as a public company and its shares are traded on the NYSE under the symbol 'I'. Intelsat maintains its headquarters in Luxembourg and an administrative office in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Intelsat currently has a fleet of approximately 50 in-service satellites, 8 teleports and the IntelsatOne terrestrial network. The in-service satellites cover 99% of the world's populated regions, including market access in approximately 200 countries and territories.

How much traffic is carried over this network?

At an investor event at the end of April 2017, Intelsat disclosed that its fleet is currently carrying over 5,600 video channels, including approximately 900 high definition channels. System utilization is listed at 78% of total available capacity of approximately 2,050 station-kept units (36 MHz). (NB: this station-kept transponder count does not include Intelsat EPIC NG capacity).

Financial profile

For Q1 2017, Intelsat reported total revenue of $538.5 million and net loss of $34.6 million. EBITDA amounted to $398.1 million and adjusted EBITDA was $409.8 million, or 76% of revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2017. The Q1 revenue total represented a 3% decline compared to $553 million in the first quarter of 2016. Net loss attributable to Intelsat was $35 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared to net income of $15 million in the prior year period. Intelsat said the net loss reflects lower revenues, an increase in interest expense and greater depreciation related to the satellites placed into service over the course of 2016.

At the same investor event on April 27, 2017, Intelsat affirmed its full-year 2017 guidance, saying its revenue is projected to be in a range of $2.180 to $2.225 billion. Full-year 2017 adjusted EBITDA is expected in a range of $1.655 to $1.700 billion. Recently, Intelsat disclosed that the U.S. government has contracted capacity on both Intelsat 29e and 33e, representing a total capacity of approximately 180 MHz.

In April 2017, Liquid Telecom signed a new, multi-year agreement for dedicated services on Intelsat 33e including a ground networking solution based upon technology developed under the European Space Agency-funded Project Indigo. The new Intelsat Epic NG services will expand Liquid Telecom's coverage and network capabilities across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where demand has grown for VSAT technology to deliver connectivity to underserved remote or rural areas.


(Part 2 will discuss the abandoned OneWeb transaction and other key trends in satellite networking.)

ZTE expects H1 revenue of RMB 54.01bn, up 13.1% YoY

ZTE has announced preliminary financial results for the first half ended June 30, 2017, as follows:

1.  Operating revenue for the first half of 2017 of RMB 54.01 billion (approximately $8.00 billion), up 13.1% compared with RMB 47.76 billion in first half of 2016.

2.  Operating profit for the first half of RMB 3.29 billion, up 564.8% compared with RMB 495 million in first half of 2016.

3.  Net profit attributable to shareholders of RMB 2.29 billion (approximately $339 million), up 29.8% compared with profit of RMB 1.77 billion in first half of 2016.

ZTE noted that in carrier networks it experienced growth in both operating revenue and gross profit for wireless communications and fixed-line and bearer systems as domestic carriers in China continued to invest in transmission and access systems for 4G projects. In the consumer business, it achieved growth in operating revenue and gross profit for handset products supported by overseas market development.

Dell'Oro forecasts microwave transmission market of $3.8bn by '21

According to the latest Microwave Transmission & Mobile Backhaul 5-year Forecast Report from Dell'Oro Group, the microwave transmission and mobile backhaul markets will continue to contract for another two years before returning to growth in 2019.

Dell'Oro expects that from 2019 market growth will be driven by the increasing use of outdoor small cells and the ramp of large-scale 5G mobile radio deployments.

Further highlights from Dell'Oro's microwave transmission and mobile backhaul forecast report include:

1.  Due to the demands of small cell deployments and the capacity requirements of 5G mobile radios fibre and copper will account for a higher share of the market for backhaul links in the future.

2.  The overall market for small cell backhaul equipment utilising fibre, copper or wireless technologies is forecast to reach $1.6 billion by 2021.

3.  The microwave transmission market is projected to total $3.8 billion by 2021, with mobile backhaul constituting approximately 70% of this revenue.

Regarding the report, Jimmy Yu, VP at Dell'Oro Group, commented, "It will likely continue to be a difficult environment for mobile backhaul equipment sales for the next two years… however, I see light at the end of the tunnel, and if (this forecast is) correct and the mobile backhaul market resumes growth in 2019, I believe that market revenue can rise to at least $5.5 billion by 2021".

Microsemi integrates Ethernet MAC to deliver FPGA 10 GBE

Microsemi, a provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, and Tamba Networks, a developer of connectivity intellectual property (IP) cores, have announced a collaboration through which they will incorporate Tamba Networks' Ethernet media access controller (MAC) into Microsemi's latest cost-optimised, mid-range PolarFire FPGA to offer a low power FPGA-based 10 Gigabit Ethernet solution.

Tamba Networks' Ethernet MAC is claimed to occupy half the area and to deliver twice the speed of competing Ethernet MACs, and can therefore offer Microsemi customers a lower cost solution based on its compact size combined with the security and advanced capabilities of PolarFire FPGAs.

As part of the collaboration with Tamba Networks, Microsemi has adopted the company's Interlaken and 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet MAC soft cores as key building blocks to evaluate and enhance PolarFire FPGAs' fabric architecture, with 10 and 40 Gbit/s datapaths running at 160 MHz and 320 MHz.

The Tamba Networks cores are designed to offer low gate count and latency along with flexibility. When combined with Microsemi's low power fabric and transceiver, the 10 Gigabit Ethernet soft core enables a 10 Gbit/s datapath that is claimed to offer 50% lower power consumption. Microsemi noted that the device is also available as a direct core from its IP library.

Microsemi stated that Tamba Networks was involved in the development of the PolarFire transceiver physical coding sublayer (PCS), providing the 64b66b/64b67b encoding modules used for Ethernet and Interlaken, and also helped modify the 64b66b encoder to operate with deterministic latency, providing support for common public radio interface (CPRI) options 7b, 8 and 9.

Microsemi's PolarFire FPGAs also target applications in the communications market, including access network, network edge, metro (1 to 40 Gbit/s), mobile infrastructure, wireless backhaul, smart optical modules and video broadcasting.


Microsemi noted that its PolarFire FPGAs are particularly suited to the access network infrastructure applications, where OEMs wish to deliver more bandwidth to customers while reducing costs.

ADVA's Q2 Revenue Declines 8.3% YoY, Outlook is Trimmed

ADVA Optical Networking reported Q2 2017 revenue of  EUR 144.2 million, down 8.3% YoY compared to EUR 157.2 million for the same period last year. Pro forma operating income in Q2 2017 stood at EUR 9.2 million or 6.4% of revenues, up from EUR 6.6 million or 4.7% of revenues in Q1 2017. This number represents a EUR 5.0 million YoY increase (Q2 2016: EUR 4.2 million) and is also within previously announced guidance.

"These are exciting and turbulent times for our industry," said Brian Protiva, CEO, ADVA Optical Networking. "It's a time of incredible contrasts. On one side, cloud and mobility continue to be mega growth drivers driving demand for more bandwidth. On the other hand, our industry continues to face pricing pressure and fierce competition creating the need for further consolidation. Our bid to acquire MRV Communications will enable us to expand our customer footprint, expand our market leadership in Ethernet access devices and expand our portfolio of packet optical solutions. The combined product portfolio will be supported by our continued commitment to operational excellence providing our customers with response times that are unmatched in the industry. Our world-class engineering team, the agility of our organization and our customer focus give us a solid foundation for further growth and profitability."

"Our revenues are currently developing in a non-uniform way," commented Uli Dopfer, CFO, ADVA Optical Networking. "With the FSP 3000 CloudConnect(TM), we are attracting new customers from different regions and customer segments. However, the current demand from one of our top customers in the ICP segment is still weak and we have not yet been able to design in our FSP 3000 CloudConnect(TM). As a result, the revenue outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year is subdued. Only via a fast and efficient integration of MRV Communications will we be able to stabilize revenues close to last year's level. Owing to the weakened revenue development and the expected takeover of MRV Communications, we will be revising our cost structures and cut back on operating costs."

For Q3 2017, ADVA Optical Networking said it now expects revenues to range between EUR 120 million and EUR 130 million and anticipates a pro forma operating income of between 2% and 5% of revenues.


ADTRAN reports Q2 revenue of $184.67m, up 13.5% yr/yr

ADTRAN reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017 as follows:

1.  Revenue for the second quarter of 2017 of $184.67 million, up 8.4% compared to $170.28 million in the first quarter and up 13.5% from $162.70 million for the second quarter of 2016.

2.  Gross profit for the second quarter of $84.63 million, up 14.8% compared to $73.71 million in the first quarter and up 7.2% from $78.95 million for the second quarter of 2016.

3.  R&D expenditure for the second quarter of $33.50 million, up 4.9% compared to $31.92 million in the first quarter and up 7.1% from $31.28 million for the second quarter of 2016.

4.  SG&A expenditure for the second quarter of $34.68 million, down 0.3% compared to $34.77 million in the first quarter and up 1.8% from $32.87 million for the second quarter of 2016.

5.  Total operating expenditure for the second quarter of $68.18 million, up 2.2% compared to $66.68 million in the first quarter and up 6.3% from $64.14 million for the second quarter of 2016.

6.  Net income for the second quarter of 2016 of $12.40 million, compared to net income of $6.65 million in the first quarter and net income of $10.23 million for the second quarter of 2016.
7.  Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30, 2017 of $136.13 million, versus $125.02 million as at March 31, 2017 and $123.08 million as at December 31, 2016.

Additional results and notes

ADTRAN reported Network Solutions revenue in the second quarter 2017 of $155.54 million, versus $143.60 million in the first quarter, and Services & Support revenue of $29.13 million, compared with $26.68 million in the first quarter. Access and Aggregation revenue totalled $138.64 million, versus $120.14 million in the first quarter.

For the second quarter, ADTRAN reported domestic revenue of $146.71 million, versus $119.26 million in the first quarter, with international revenue of $37.96 million, compared with $51.02 million in the first quarter.


Nuage Cites Momentum in SD-WAN Adoption

TELUS is using Nuage Networks' SD-WAN solution to power its newly launched Network as a Service (NaaS), which enables Canadian businesses to virtually build, manage and cloud-optimize their networks. TELUS NaaS enables cloud-optimization for business applications through improved network performance and customizable policies that ensure mission-critical traffic, like VoIP, is prioritized over other types of traffic. TELUS said its service can reduce network deployment time by up to 80 percent and that it provides full line of sight to network performance data.

Nuage said the deployment with TELUS is indicative of a larger trend worldwide as enterprises recognize that their WAN services and architectures require significant transformation to take advantage of multicloud services. Some of its recently announced SD-WAN wins include BT, China Telecom, Exponential, NTT Data, Telefonica, Telia Finland, AscoTLC and My Republic.

Nuage capabilities include:

  • Automated end-to-end enterprise service delivery between datacenters and branch offices while offering seamless connections to public cloud services.
  • Value-added services by deploying third-party Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) at enterprise branch locations on top of open, virtualized "branch-in-the box" platforms.
  • A network analytics and performance monitoring solution (Virtualized Service Assurance Platform, or VSAP ) and software-defined security (Virtualized Security Services, or VSS ) that provides industry-leading insight and remediation capabilities.


"Nuage Networks has become a leader in helping service providers deliver fully automated and self-service SD-WAN solutions to enterprise customers who are looking to connect their users quickly and securely to applications in private and public clouds. Our platform is present in the world's largest carrier-grade networks and is being deployed as a complete overlay that can serve as a natural extension of customers' existing L2 and L3 MPLS VPN and other WAN service offerings to remote sites. We are the only vendor that offers a single SDN automation platform for the datacenter, WAN and public cloud - providing operational simplification, agility and significant cost savings across the multiple cloud-based services currently offered by these providers," stated Sunil Khandekar, Nuage Networks CEO and founder.

http://www.nuagenetworks.net

SDN Market Update: Sunil Khandekar, Nuage Networks



What is resonating in the market today for software-defined networking (SDN) and SD-WAN technologies? Sunil Khandekar, founder and CEO of Nuage Networks, says it is the ability to connect users everywhere with applications anywhere, whether they are in public or private clouds. Real deployments are becoming the new normal.

See video: https://youtu.be/-lPYVzja530

i3 Broadband selects Huawei for residential broadband in Illinois

Huawei announced that i3 Broadband, a regional provider of fibre-based Internet services, has selected the company to enhance its deployment of services to residential homes and multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in the Champaign-Urbana and the greater Peoria areas of Illinois.

Huawei's scalable, end-to-end broadband solutions will enable i3 Broadband to expand its service offering to existing users, as well as help it to save time and reduce costs when installing connections to new MDU customers.

i3 Broadband noted that, driven by an increase in multifamily residential building construction, as well as growing customer demand for faster broadband speeds, it is experiencing increasing demand from MDU customers. To address this need, i3 Broadband has partnered with Huawei for the supply of GPON, NG-PON and D-CCAP technologies that can support gigabit services to MDUs.

Huawei stated that a key factor in its selection by i3 Broadband was its ability to offer cost-effective, future-proof solutions, which are designed to support software upgrades and eliminate the need to install new equipment.


* Recently, i3 Broadband announced plans to commence network construction in multiple neighbourhoods as part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment to extend the fibre network throughout Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. i3 Broadband is deploying FTTH infrastructure to deliver gigabit broadband, video and voice services to customers in the area.


* i3 Broadband is the local commercial partner that is working with the UC2B not-for-profit board to extend fibre connectivity to homes and businesses. The network expansion was to extend the initial UC2B fibre backbone build carried out from 2010 to 2013 that was supported by $26 million in federal and state grants and in-kind contributions from the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois.

See also