Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MEF aims to define the future of Lifecycle Service Orchestration – Part 1

by Bartosz Michalik of Amartus

MEF is an industry body that, besides other activities, defines the LSO capabilities and APIs to automate the entire service lifecycle in a sustainable fashion. This activity will allow service providers to attain coordinated management and control across all network domains responsible for delivering end to end connectivity services. In order to enable that coordinated management and ensure efficient communication within networks, MEF has defined the reference architecture. In short, this architecture comprises functional blocks and 'LSO Reference Points'. Reference Points are the logical points of interaction between specific functional management components, such as business applications, service orchestration functions (SOF), or infrastructure management and control applications (ICM). The Presto Management Interface Reference Point is the 'north-south' interface for network resource provisioning that sits between the SOF and ICM, and according to MEF 55 (https://wiki.mef.net/display/CESG/LSO+Presto), it is "needed to manage the network infrastructure, including network and topology view related management functions".

Currently, the LSO Presto API efforts are spearheaded by CenturyLink, with active contributions from Amartus, Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Infinera and NEC.

Industry-wide Collaboration Accelerates Realization of the Third Network Vision

Last year, MEF began the process of specifying the industry standard to accelerate the adoption of orchestrated network services. Enabling and assuring Third Network services across multiple provider networks calls for an industry-wide collaboration because of the involved level of complexity. In order to facilitate that cooperation and complement the work of its Technical and Operations Committee, MEF has come forward with a number of initiatives.

What emerged from that work was a plan to support and validate the work around MEF standards and LSO architecture by delivering open and close source reference implementations that realize the ideas defined in MEF 55 specification, outlining the LSO Reference Architecture and Framework. MEF has launched a series of initiatives that allow the in-network validation of Lifecycle Service Orchestration data models and interfaces. The current effort of the working groups is streamlined under the umbrella terms of Open Lifecycle Service Orchestration (OpenLSO) and Open Connectivity Services (OpenCS) ecosystems.

OpenLSO is focused on the implementation of functions and APIs specific for service orchestration functionality (SOF). It primarily targets service providers who are accelerating their adoption of LSO to enjoy all benefits of end to end service orchestration over standard MEF services. OpenCS focuses on Presto NRP, which is an LSO interface reference point (IRP) specific for infrastructure and control management (ICM). OpenCS provides reference implementations of connectivity services using combinations of open and close source software, open hardware, SDN, NFV and Carrier Ethernet (CE) 2.0-certified devices. To leverage these technologies, MEF develops this work stream in close cooperation with open source projects such as ON.Lab, OpenDaylight and OPNFV. This ecosystem should be of interest to those service providers that are adopting SDN and NFV to deliver MEF-defined connectivity services.

About the author

Bartosz Michalik is a Software Architect at Amartus, a Certified MEF Engineer, and a holder of the MEF Recognition Award for LSO Hackathon blogging and facilitation. He leads the LSO Presto Hackathon project, and co-leads the OpenCS Packet WAN project together with Donald Hunter from Cisco. He is also a contributor to the Open Daylight UniMgr project. E-mail me at a Bartosz.Michalik@amartus.com with any questions or queries.

(NB: Further information about MEF's Third Network Vision and Lifecycle Service Orchestration is available here: https://www.mef.net/third-network/lifecycle-service-orchestration)

Singtel launches 800 Mbit/s mobile data

Singtel of Singapore announced it is beginning a phased launch of near-gigabit speeds on its LTE Advanced network at selected high-traffic outdoor locations across the island, starting with Orchard Road.

Offering data rates of up to 800 Mbit/s, Singtel claims that the new service is Southeast Asia's fastest LTE mobile data peak speed, delivering up to 60% faster download speeds than existing LTE services that offer speeds of up to 450 Mbit/s.

The operator stated that the near-gigabit transmission speeds are enabled by scaling pre-5G technology solutions, 4 x 4 MIMO and 256QAM, combined with triple carrier aggregation (CA) of spectrum exclusive to Singtel.

Following the initial launch, customers with Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphones will be able to access the 800 Mbit/s peak speeds at the outdoor areas of Shaw Centre, ION Orchard and Tang Plaza along Orchard Road. Singtel noted that deployment at Orchard Road, Raffles Place and Clarke Quay is scheduled to begin by the end of August, while additional Cat 16 smartphones able to support gigabit speeds are expected to be launched later in the year.

The new 800 Mbit/s mobile service augments Singtel's existing nationwide 450 Mbit/s mobile data speeds. The operator noted that according to Singapore's regulator IMDA it currently offers the widest outdoor 4G coverage, as well as the highest mobile data rates on the island.

* Earlier this year, Singtel and Ericsson announced they were working together to pilot massive MIMO and cloud RAN on Singtel’s 4G LTE network as part of the evolution to 5G and delivering gigabit mobile data rates. Specifically, Ericsson supplied its AIR 6468 radio, providing 64T64R massive MIMO capabilities for testing prior to progress deployment on Singtel’s 4G LTE network.

AT&T delivers global network with FlexWare + NetBond for Cloud for Omnicom

New York-based Omnicom Group, a global provider of marketing communications, has selected AT&T to deploy a universal network solution designed to improve its efficiency and increase security for the company and its clients.

To support the delivery of its proprietary marketing services in a more secure and reliable way, Omnicom required a technology provider with the ability to deliver a secure network across all of its locations in 100-plus countries and to its more than 78,000 employees. By consolidating the company's infrastructure into a single network, AT&T aims to help Omnicom agencies connect and collaborate more effectively, as well as reduce operational costs.

The Global Omnicom/AT&T network strategy will leverage AT&T FlexWare, NetBond for Cloud and Threat Manager elements to provide Omnicom with an advanced flexible, secure and efficient network.

AT&T FlexWare is a global, software-centric platform that will help Omnicom to quickly deploy and manage virtualised network functions such as routers and firewalls, as well as make adjustments based on changing business needs via an online portal. FlexWare allows users to add and remove features and scale services on demand. The solution will help reduce Omnicom's hardware requirements and simplify operations.

In addition, AT&T NetBond for Cloud is designed to provide secure connectivity between the AT&T virtual private network and cloud service providers, while Threat Manager offers a security incident and event management platform.

Mavenir to establish 5G innovation centre in Israel

Mavenir, a major provider of technology designed to accelerate and redefine network transformation for service providers, announced it has established a new R&D and 5G Innovation centre of excellence in Ra'anana, Israel that will focus on the development of 5G network and services solutions.

Mavenir noted that the next generation of network infrastructure will be based on a common, flexible infrastructure with the ability to support application with enhanced QoE (for example virtual reality), provide mobility across heterogeneous networks (HetNet), deliver ultra-low latency and high reliability, as well as support the connectivity needs of billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Mavenir is focused on enabling cloud-centric NFV infrastructure (NFVi) across its end-to-end 5G portfolio, encompassing NGCN, cloud RAN, end-to-end security and orchestration, leveraging open development techniques and programming tools. As part of this initiative, the new Ra'anana centre, together with the Brno centre of excellence, will also work on Mavenir's voice/video and advanced messaging solutions.

* Mavenir announced in June that it had launched an R&D centre of excellence in Brno, Czech Republic, which is focused on delivering artificial intelligence/machine learning signalling security solutions. Mavenir's AI/machine learning solution is designed to provide advanced signalling monitoring, active filtering and analytics to ensure networks remain functional and operational and protect customers when using network services.

* The company noted when announcing the new centre that although SS7 has been widely used for decades, hackers have only recently started exploiting its vulnerabilities. Leveraging its expertise in signalling security based on security gateways (SeGWs) and Diameter edge agents (DEAs), signalling transfer points (STPs) and Diameter routing agents (DRAs), Mavenir aims to provide advanced edge and core network signalling protection for network operators.

Ukraine's lifecell deploys Huawei in city of Lviv

Huawei announced a partnership with Ukraine's leading telecom operator lifecell for the deployment of its Easy Macro 2.0-based PoleStar site solution in the tourist city of Lviv.

Huawei noted that lifecell is first operator to deploy Easy Macro 2.0 commercially. Expanding on the Easy Macro 1.0 solution, Easy Macro 2.0 offers support for a wider range of radio access technologies (RATs) and higher power, and is designed to enable more flexible installation and provide more uniform coverage to help operators' address the difficulties of site acquisition and reduce site construction costs.

Huawei stated that Lviv attracts an estimated up to 200,000 tourists per day, creating high demand for network capacity. Ukrainian operator lifecell aims to provide a quality network and enhanced services for Internet access. However, with growth in data traffic network capacity restrictions cannot be addressed where spectrum resources are limited. As a result, lifecell is experiencing strong demand for site additions.

Huawei stated that the installation of traditional macro base stations presents challenges in terms of site acquisition, a lengthy site approval period, and site construction costs.

Integrating radio and antenna elements, Huawei's Easy Macro 2.0 product is designed to be small and light, and to allow the use of power pole resources present in urban areas for site deployment. The solution is therefore designed to resolve the issue of site acquisition for operators and enable faster site deployments.

Huawei's Easy Macro 2.0 offers concurrent support for GSM, UMTS and LTE, while also offering greater large power and significantly extended coverage area compared with the previous generation solution. The product additionally supports horizontal installation and features adjustable vertical beam width (VBW) to optimise coverage in high-rise buildings. The new version also supports centralised transmission and power supply to help reduce site deployment costs.

Huawei claims that using Easy Macro 2.0 lifecell has been able to increase network coverage by 8.73% while the release of suppressed network resulted in voice traffic increasing by 24.93% and the data traffic by 22.08% per cluster compared with the existing network. In addition, the company claims that deployment efficiency for a single site improved by 94% and the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the site was lowered by over 30%.

Nokia supplies network for emergency response services in California

Nokia announced it has been selected to modernise the communications network of the County of Fresno in California to enhance emergency response and public safety capabilities in the county.

For the project, Nokia will upgrade the network infrastructure via the deployment of microwave packet radio and IP/MPLS technology to support secure, resilient and reliable data connectivity for first responders and county facilities.

The upgraded network is designed to provide the backhaul capabilities for Fresno County's digital trunked radio system, which is used by police, firefighters and other public safety departments, to communicate with command centres and with each other. The new network will also be capable of supporting services for a number of other county agencies.

For the project, Nokia is supplying the its 9500 Microwave Packet Radio and 7705 Service Aggregation Router to support IP, Ethernet, TDM and video services, and to enable the transition to a modern all-IP network. The IP/MPLS-enabled microwave network is managed by the Nokia Network Services Platform, which is designed to simplify management and enable improved operational efficiency, as well as allow a transition to software defined networking (SDN) in the future.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nokia is also providing professional services including network design and migration, installation and integration services.

Nokia noted that the project highlights its focus on delivering mission-critical networks for markets beyond traditional communications service providers, in particular to the public safety sector in the U.S. and worldwide.

  • As part of this effort, Nokia recently announced it had been selected to provide an advanced communications network to the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) in northern California, to support hydro-electric power generation and water distribution services in the area. For the project, Nokia was to replace PCWA's existing network with an IP/MPLS and packet microwave network designed to support a range of utility applications.
  • Managed by its Network Services Platform (NSP), the PCWA network featured Nokia's 7705 Service Aggregation Router (SAR) portfolio and 9500 Microwave Packet Radio (MPR).

MTS of Russia partners with Ericsson and Qualcomm to trial LAA technology

Ericsson, working with Russian mobile operator MTS and technology company Qualcomm, announced it has trialled Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology in a first live over-the-air demonstration in Russia, marking the first time a commercial Ericsson product has been used to support Rel-13 LAA.

Ericsson noted that LAA leverages the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum band together with licensed spectrum to deliver enhanced performance for mobile device users. Together with MTS, the largest mobile operator in Russia and the CIS serving over 100 million subscribers, and Qualcomm Technologies, Ericsson conducted the live trial based on a commercial small cell product for Rel-13 LAA.

The demonstration was conducted in an MTS test lab over a live network and involved Ericsson's Pico RBS 6402 small cell and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE mobile test device.

Ericsson's RBS 6402 is an indoor pico cell designed for small building deployments that offers support for LTE, WCDMA and WiFi, 10 frequency bands and up to 300 Mbit/s with LTE carrier aggregation.

* Previously, in June last year the two companies tested LTE-U (LTE-Unlicensed) and demonstrated the aggregation of two frequency bands - 10 MHz in the 1800 MHz band of LTE and 20 MHz in the unlicensed 5 GHz band - at WiFi access points, achieving data rates of up to 200 Mbit/s.

* Earlier this year, MTS, and Ericsson announced trials of 5G technology during which they achieved data transmission rates of up to 25 Gbit/s using a portable prototype of a smartphone. The testing was conducted by Ericsson and MTS at the Opening Arena stadium in Moscow, where a base station operating in the range of 14.5 to 15.3 GHz transmitted a signal to a portable prototype of a subscriber' device at the speeds of up to 25 Gbit/s.

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

Frontier extends broadband to 238,000 premises

Frontier Communications, serving customers across 29 U.S. states, announced that it has reached a milestone as part of the FCC Connect America Fund program (CAF) ahead of schedule.

Frontier noted that the FCC CAF program requires companies that have accepted funding to deploy broadband to 40% of the eligible locations by the end of 2017. Under the program, as of the end of June Frontier had reached the 40% target in nine states, namely Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia.

Nationwide, Frontier stated that it is currently delivering broadband service to approximately 238,000 households and small businesses in its CAF-eligible areas, and has improved connection speeds to approximately 746,000 additional locations. The broadband expansion involved a combination of Frontier capital investment and resources the FCC has made available through the CAF program.

Frontier is marketing broadband offerings to households with newly provided or improved broadband speeds. Frontier offers speeds of up to 115 Mbit/s, depending on the distance from its nearest facilities, with many newly connected locations able to receive speeds of at least 25 Mbit/s.

Through its involvement in the FCC CAF program, Frontier will use $332 million in annual funding to extend broadband with a speed of at least 10 Mbit/s to 774,000 households and businesses over the lifetime of the program.

* In June, Frontier announced it was providing broadband service to previously unserved residents in 25 counties in Ohio and West Virginia. In Ohio, the company extended service to 12,600 CAF-eligible households and improve speeds to a further 33,600 households. In West Virginia, it delivered broadband to approximately 16,900 eligible households and improved speeds to an additional 117,000 households.

Monday, July 24, 2017

UK alternate operator Call Flow selects ADTRAN XGS-PON solution for FTTH service

ADTRAN announced that Call Flow, an alternate network provider serving the south of England, has selected its XGS-PON solution for what is believed to be the UK's first symmetric multi-Gigabit FTTH services.

ADTRAN noted that broadband operator Call Flow is already offering fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC)-based services providing up to 100 Mbit/s bandwidth across southern England and has now selected its next generation 10 Gbit/s-capable FTTH solution to scale its services.

The new network architecture, which is compatible with Call Flow's existing FTTH network, is designed to deliver significantly higher symmetric multi-gigabit access performance to help the service provider differentiate its offering as it targets strategic expansion over the next 5–10 years.

By supporting 10 Gbit/s symmetric fixed wavelength PON over new and existing fibre infrastructures, XGS-PON is designed to enable a balance between performance and cost, thereby allowing Call Flow to address both residential and business subscribers simultaneously over a single, common optical distribution network.

ADTRAN believes that XGS-PON can double the effective life span of operators' optical distribution networks, helping to protect their network investments while providing the capacity to support new services. ADTRAN stated that was a pioneer in delivering 10 Gbit/s PON solutions, including contributing key technology that led to the introduction of XGS-PON as an ITU standard.

Call Flow is an alternate operator that has built superfast/ultrafast networks across Kent, East Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire in southern England. Call Flow is a major user of BT Openreach's ducts and poles (PIA/DPA) and sub-loop unbundling (SLU/FTTC) assets.

Corning acquires SpiderCloud, supplier of in-building wireless

Corning announced that it has acquired SpiderCloud Wireless based in Milpitas, California, a supplier of in-building wireless solutions, on undisclosed terms.

SpiderCloud is a developer of scalable small-cell network platforms designed to deliver enhanced coverage and capacity for the delivery of wireless services inside buildings. Small cells are deployed by mobile operators and enterprises to improve network efficiency and end-user services.

Corning stated that the acquisition of SpiderCloud's advanced solutions and established position as a provider to key wireless customers is expected to create new market access opportunities. As a part of Corning, SpiderCloud will become part of the Optical Communications segment and align with its target of increasing annual sales from $3 billion in 2016 to $5 billion by 2020.

Regarding the acquisition, Clark S. Kinlin, EVP, Corning Optical Communications, said, "Wireless connectivity has become more a necessity than an amenity, and mobile operators and enterprise customers are seeking cost-effective solutions to enhance service for users inside buildings… with the acquisition of SpiderCloud Wireless, the combined product solutions will help drive optical convergence and enable fibre-deep architectures within the enterprise LAN".

  • SpiderCloud recently announced commercial availability of its Frequency Agile small cell, the SCRN-220, for its enterprise RAN (E-RAN) platform. The new SCRN-220 is an enterprise-grade LTE small cell that can be software configured for the major U.S. bands, including 2 (1900), 25 (1900), 4 (1700), 66 (2100), 12 (700) and 13 (700), with channel widths of 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz.

  • The SCRN-220 is based on SpiderCloud's E-RAN architecture that includes a Services Node controlling up to 100 self-organising LTE small cells, capable of delivering coverage and capacity in indoor locations as large as 1.5 million sq feet. The product can support up to 64 active LTE users and offers 150 Mbit/s peak downlink rate.

  • SpiderCloud also recently expanded its E-RAN system with support for LTE-U, leveraging the Qualcomm FSM small cell platform and the SpiderCloud scalable small cell systems. It noted that the new system was one of the first enterprise scale small cell system to receive FCC authorisation to deliver LTE-U capacity in unlicensed spectrum, and also supported software upgrade to LTE-LAA.

  • In June, Corning Optical Communications launched a multiuse platform combining multi-fibre and single-fibre connection points and targeting carriers, operators and municipalities wishing to deploy fibre-deep access networks. Capable of supporting a mix of network architectures on the same fibre backbone, the multiuse platform is designed to enable LTE connectivity and future 5G networks.

AT&T expands gigabit Internet service to Tulsa

AT&T announced the launch of 1 Gbit/s broadband service over its all fibre network powered by AT&T Fiber to customers in parts of the Tulsa area, including in parts of Tulsa, Jenks, Owasso and surrounding communities in Oklahoma.

The Tulsa area is one of 55 metro markets across the U.S. where AT&T now offers ultra-fast, fibre-based Internet service as the company progresses towards its target of reaching at least 75 metros with its fastest Internet service.

With the latest launch by AT&T Fiber the operator offers a 1 Gbit/s connection on its 100% fibre network to more than 5.5 million locations across 55 metro areas. AT&T plans to increase this to at least 12.5 million locations by mid-2019.

AT&T's Internet 1000 broadband offering is its highest speed Internet service that is enabled by the company's all-fibre network. The service is available priced at $70 per month for customers that bundle it with another AT&T service on a single bill, or for $80 per month as a standalone service for a period of 12 months.

* Previously, in late June AT&T announced it was offering its fibre-based 1 Gbit/s connection service to customer locations in parts of the Monterey-Salinas area, including in parts of Santa Cruz and surrounding communities in California. AT&T noted that it planned to expand availability to parts of Capitola and Salinas.

* In April, AT&T announced that as part of its program to deploy fibre across its service area in 21 states it planned to extend its fibre network to parts of eight new metro areas, as follows: Dayton (Ohio); Macon (Georgia); Madison (Wisconsin); Monterey-Salinas (California); Savannah (Georgia); South Bend (Indiana); Springfield (Missouri); and western Michigan.

* At the same time, AT&T announced the launch of fibre-based service with up to 1 Gbit/s bandwidth in the East Bay area of California, including in parts of the cities of Fremont, Newark, Oakland and the surrounding areas, with plans to offer fibre-based Internet access in parts of Hayward, San Leandro and Union City, California shortly.

Veracity delivers SDN-based secure net for U.S. DOE

Veracity Industrial Networks of Aliso Viejo, California, a developer of Industrial SDN-based technology for operational networks, announced the completion of the first phase of delivery to the U.S. Department of Energy for its Chess Master project, designed to ensure ICS network cybersecurity.

Veracity noted that that, recently a piece of malware known as Industroyer or Crash Override, designed to disrupt physical systems, was discovered and was used on an electric transmission station north of the city of Kiev, Ukraine, blacking out part of the city. Veracity is working with the DOE to help safeguard U.S. systems against such attacks.

The Chess Master project was established to research, develop, test and commercialise a security validation and policy enforcement application that connects into a flow controller for centralised management of field networks. For the project, Veracity is working with partners Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Ameren and Sempra Energy to enable these capabilities in industrial networks.

The company noted that Chess Master was preceded by Watchdog, a project that focused on using industrial SDN networks for cybersecurity.

* Veracity announced in February that it had been selected by the DOE for the Chess Master project. It stated that the project was tasked with delivering a security state policy enforcer application to run on the northbound interface of a flow controller, a DIN rail mount SDN Ethernet switch, an industrial control system extension to the open source SDN specification using OpenFlow, and the ability to encrypt/decrypt packets on a per-flow basis and automate key management functions.

* Veracity recently announced the appointment of a number of executives to support growth leveraging its Industrial SDN technology. The appointments included: Blue Lang, formerly chief architect and engineering leader for the SDN enterprise controller at Cisco, as senior product manager; Tom VanNorman as lead systems engineer; Eric Davidson as director of engineering; and Jay Williams as EVP of revenue generation;

* In 2016, Microsemi announced a collaboration with Veracity Security Intelligence, developing an enterprise-class security platform for operational technology (OT) networks, to develop secure networking solutions for industrial Ethernet deployments. Under the agreement, Microsemi also invested in Veracity as part of an early-stage funding transaction.

Dell'Oro Forecasts 400 Gbit/s switch market

In the latest Ethernet Switch - Data Center 5-year Forecast Report from Dell’Oro Group, the research firm forecasts that the market for 400 Gbit/s switches will ramp strongly starting in 2019, while from 2020, 25 and 100 Gbit/s will account for more than half of the data centre switch port shipments.

Dell'Oro reports that the second half of 2016 saw the beginning of a major speed upgrade cycle in the data centre based on 25 Gigabit Ethernet SerDes technology, with shipments of 25 and 100 Gbit/s reaching hundreds of thousands of ports per quarter despite supply constraints on 100 Gigabit Ethernet optical transceivers. Adoption of 25/100 Gbit/s is predicted to accelerate in 2017 and to comprise over half of data centre switching ports within only 4 years of initial shipments.
Dell'Oro notes that the rapid growth will be driven by a low price premium over preceding 10 and 40 Gbit/s port speeds as well as switch vendors consolidating their products to provide fewer speed options.

In its separate Ethernet Switch - Layer 2+3 5-year Forecast Report, Dell'Oro forecasts that the overall Ethernet switch market will grow to exceed $28 billion in 2021, driven by factors including speed upgrades, software-defined networking and subscription-based models.

Dell'Oro expects that the Ethernet switch market will remain robust over the next 5 years, with revenue and shipment growth driven primarily by the data centre segment, while the campus switching market is forecast to continue to be soft due partly to cannibalisation from WLAN.

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)".