Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Singtel to rollout nationwide Cat-M1 + NB-IoT

Singtel of Singapore announced that it plans to roll out its nationwide cellular IoT network by the end of September this year with the aim of helping enterprises achieve operational and cost efficiencies through the use of low-power IoT devices.

The Singtel network will support Cat-M1 and NB-IoT technologies and will provide businesses with access to a network offering low-power consumption, extensive coverage and multiple connections. Singtel will also leverage its cyber security expertise to support businesses in implementing secure and reliable IoT solutions, and so address security concerns when deploying remote sensors and IoT devices.

Singtel noted that cellular IoT network can support devices with a battery life of up to 10 years through the use of both low-band and mid-band frequencies. A key feature of the operator's cellular IoT-over-Cat-M1 network is that it will enable businesses to make VoLTE calls in future using small, power-efficient portable devices such as wearables and trackers with voice capability.

Singtel stated that it has been exploring the use of IoT with local companies and large corporations across a diverse range of applications since 2016. Potential applications include environmental sensing, asset tracking, waste management and monitoring of medicine consumption.

In tandem with the deployment, Singtel will be inviting businesses and technology partners to try out and develop IoT solutions at the IoT Innovation Lab. Set up in collaboration with Ericsson, the Iab allows businesses to experience new IoT applications first-hand and develop business models.
* At Mobile World Congress 2017, Singtel and Ericsson presented their Assured+ Consumer Connected Device Solution (Assured+) IoT technology and showcased an IoT ecosystem for operators, networks and devices.

Jointly developed by Singtel and Ericsson, Assured+ is an integrated IoT solution designed to support connected cars and other emerging IoT applications for consumers.

Assured+ enables devices to connect across existing 3G/4G networks, NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M and is designed to support the adoption of such networks while speeding time-to-market for the launch of new services.

* Earlier in the year, Singtel and Ericsson announced a pilot of massive MIMO and cloud RAN technology on Singtel's 4G LTE network as part of the evolution towards 5G.

FCC plans $2bn auction to support rural broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the next step toward launching an auction that will provide nearly $2 billion over ten years to support the expansion of high-speed Internet access to consumers and businesses in rural areas that are currently unserved by fixed broadband service.

FCC noted that the process represents the first time it has held an auction to allocate ongoing Connect America Fund (CAF) support for fixed broadband and voice services in rural areas. The use of a market-based reverse auction mechanism is designed to enable the FCC to expand and support the provision of quality rural fixed broadband and voice services at a lower cost and to maximise its investment.

The auction is scheduled to commence in 2018. With the public announcement, the FCC is seeking comment on the proposed application and bidding procedures for the auction, including: how interested parties can qualify to participate in the auction; how bidders will submit their bids; and how the FCC will process bids to determine the winners and support amounts.

This first-of-its-kind auction of support for fixed broadband and voice service is expected to attract parties that have not previously participated in an FCC auction. Therefore, the FCC's Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, together with the Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, plan to provide detailed educational materials and hands-on practice opportunities in advance of the auction.

Has Mexico’s telecommunications reform of 2013 been a success?

In September 2013, as part of the Pacto por México initiated by the then newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Federal Commission of Telecommunications (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones, or CoFeTel) was replaced by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones or IFT). This new, autonomous federal agency, which is headed by a board of seven commissioners, set out to undo the longstanding monopoly of América Móvil and its Telmex (fixed line) and Telcel (mobile) business units. At the time, América Móvil controlled 71% of the landline business and 82% of the mobile market. Its owner, Carlos Slim Helú, was ranked as the richest person in the world, but in terms of operational metrics Mexico's telecom market was nowhere near that of a developed country. A key objective of the telecom reform was to split América Móvil's fixed line and mobile business units.

It has been three and a half years since the reforms began (or at least three years since they were officially ratified by Mexico's legislature) and the break up of América Móvil has yet to be finalised. Despite losing market share, revenue at the company have grown and the company is now more of a leader for all Latin America. Rather than suffering a financial setback, the Carlos Slim family seems to have prospered since the reforms. So, what has changed?

Mexico's Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) argues that its reforms have made measurable improvements, including:

•   The price of telecommunication services in Mexico dropped by 29% between June 2013 and December 2016, even though the rate of inflation over that period was 12.8%.

•   The concept of national long-distance phone calls became obsolete.

•   The cost of international long-distance phone calls dropped by 40%.

•   The average mobile phone bill dropped by 43%.

•   The ability to easily switch mobile operators with number portability became widely implemented.

•   Since June 2013, the number of paid TV subscriptions (cable or satellite) has risen by 33%; currently, 60% of Mexican homes have a paid TV subscription.

•   Fixed residential broadband access grew 19% between Q4 2013 and December 2016. currently, 48% of Mexican homes have broadband Internet service. As recently as 2011, when efforts to pass the telecom reform were gathering strength, only 11% of the population had broadband access in their homes, with multiple family members in each home, it is now estimated that 61% of the population has broadband access.

•   More than 80% of Mexican homes with broadband service currently enjoy download speeds of 10 Mbit/s or better; in 2015, most home were receiving download service in the 2~9 Mbit/s range.

•   Broadband via coaxial cable is quickly gaining in popularity and now accounts for 35% of the market; DSL service continues to account for the largest share of the market but is dropping in popularity, while FTTH is rising at a 150% annual growth rate.

•   In 2013, América Móvil (Telmex) controlled 71% of the fixed broadband access market, followed by Grupo Televisa at 12%, Megacable-MCM at 6%, and a number of other providers; by 2016, Telmex had lost 14.5 market share percentage points to its rivals and now controls under 57% of the fixed broadband access market.

•   In mobile broadband, América Móvil (Telcel) has also seen its share drop from 82% in 2013 to 72% in 2016; leaders in Mexico mobile broadband include: América Móvil (Telcel) at 72%, Telefonica at 14%, AT&T at 12%, and a handful of other players capturing the rest.

•   The amount of licensed spectrum has risen, before 2013, a total of 222 MHz was available for licensing; currently, 404 MHz is available for commercial use with the addition of 190 MHz of 2.5 GHz bands, Mexico will soon have 594 MHz of spectrum for commercial services.

•   Mexico became the first country in Latin America to end analogue TV service.

•   Private investment in telecommunications in Mexico rose 76% between 2014 and 2016, including many direct foreign investments.

IFT also noted that telecommunication service providers have also benefited directly from the reforms, as the total revenue collected by these companies rose from MXP 399 million in 2013 to MXP 456 million in 2016. Mobile revenue now accounts for 55% of the market, while fixed line accounts for 45%.

The Red Compartida project has selected its vendors

There has been limited public information about the Red Compartida (shared network) project since the selection of ALTÁN Redes as the principal contractor late last year. Red Compartida is sometimes described as the largest construction of a new public access network in the world, although it is eclipsed by the FirstNet emergency response project in the U.S.

Key facts of the initiative include:

•   Red Compartida will only offer wholesale mobile services.

•   Red Compartida will build a new national network covering at least 92.2% of the population.

•   The commercial launch date will be March 31st, 2018, an aggressive target!

•   Red Compartida's largest investor at 33% is Marapendi Holding BV, an indirect subsidiary of North Haven Infrastructure Partners II, an infrastructure fund with a value-add strategy to invest in OECD countries around the world, managed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure; Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec(CDPQ), one of North America's largest pension fund manager holds a 12.68% share; Mr. Miguel S. Escobedo holds a 9.35% share; and Mr. Eugenio Galdón, Chairman of Multitel, holds a 3.34% share.

•   Axtel and Megacable also hold a stake in ALTÁN Redes through a series of non-voting shares and without involvement in management; each have a participation of 4.01%.

•   In March, ALTÁN Redes selected Huawei and Nokia as turn-key technology providers for Red Compartida, a pure IP + LTE network.

•   Huawei technology will be used for central and southern Mexico (telecommunications regions 6 to 9), as well as providing the backbone.

•   Nokia's technology will be rolled out in the northern part of the country (regions 1 to 5). Nokia will also supply the network Core, which includes the Network Operation Center (NOC) and Security Operation Center (SOC).

AT&T continues to invest in Mexico

Finally, it should be noted that AT&T continues to invest heavily in Mexico, even though it may or may not be allowed to participate in the wholesale Red Compartida mobile infrastructure program when it comes online. AT&T's LTE network now covers 88 million people in Mexico and it expects to reach 100 million PoPs by the end of 2018. For Q2 2017, AT&T reported that wireless revenues from Mexico were $665 million, up 9.7% versus the year-earlier quarter, largely due to subscriber growth, which was partially offset by competitive pressures and foreign exchange.  AT&T added 92,000 post-paid subscribers and 402,000 prepaid subscribers in Q2. It now has 13.1 million total wireless subscribers in Mexico, a 31% increase from a year ago.

T-Mobile Austria selects Huawei OTN for metro and backbone

Huawei announced that T-Mobile Austria, a Deutsche Telekom (DT) company, has selected its OTN solution for its planned WDM metro and backbone network deployment projects.

Huawei noted that rapid growth in traffic driven by new services such as LTE/LTE-A, IoT, big data, cloud computing and 4K video mean that T-Mobile Austria's metro network needs to be able to provide higher bandwidth and lower latency. T-Mobile Austria, with around 1,300 employees, serves 4.6 million customers, as well as offering IT services worldwide in cooperation with DT unit T-Systems.

The T-Mobile Austria projects will create a next-generation, high-capacity WDM transport network designed to support the growth in network traffic and new services for the operator over the next five years.

For the project, T-Mobile Austria has selected Huawei's simplified OTN solution to increase bandwidth across its network to 200 Gbit/s per wavelength while efficiently utilising fibre resources leveraging the latest WDM technologies. The operator is also deploying OTN devices at CO sites to consolidate network layers and eliminate intermediate aggregation and forwarding to enable direct optical connections between sites for reduced network latency.

Huawei stated that T-Mobile Austria's existing backbone network supports 40 x 100 Gbit/s wavelengths, which is insufficient to handle increasing traffic loads, while in addition 10/100 Gbit/s hybrid transmission in many locations further limits transmission performance. Moreover, a complex dispersion compensation configuration presents challenges for network planning and O&M and means the existing network cannot support a data centre-centric network architecture.

To address these challenges, Huawei is providing a complete all-optical, coherent backbone network solution providing support for increased bandwidth, flexible traffic grooming and allowing the evolution of the cloud data centre interconnect (DCI) network architecture to enable future service cloudification.

The network-wide CDCG-ROADM configuration delivered by Huawei can support on-demand service grooming, 80 x 100/200/400 Gbit/s channels per fibre and will allow the evolution to the 1 Tbit/s ultra-high-speed transmission.


Huawei is also providing its intelligent optical-layer OSNR monitoring fibre self-test system, which combined with the simplified OTN architecture, is designed to simplify network planning and O&M to meet the demands of inter-data centre traffic.

Transition Networks introduces SFP Ethernet extender

Transition Networks, a provider of data network integration solutions, announced a new small form-factor pluggable (SFP)-based Ethernet extender (TN-EOT-xx) designed to connect distant workstations, devices or workgroups to a corporate network using legacy copper cabling at up to 300 Mbit/s.

Transition Networks' Ethernet Extender enables users to leverage existing 2-wire or coax cable infrastructure to extend Ethernet service with up to 300 Mbit/s bandwidth. The new TN-EOT-xx device can extend Ethernet service on 2-wire cabling over distances of up to 400 metres at 200 Mbit/s bi-directional data rate, or over coax cabling to distances of up to 500 metres at 300 Mbit/s bi-directional data rate.

The TN-EOT-xx SFP device is plug-and-play, requiring no configuration or set up on the host device, and features an RJ-45 connector for 2-wire applications or an RJ-45-to-BNC adapter for coax applications. The extender complies with MSA standards and is compatible with networking devices with a Gigabit SFP slot. The extender has an operational temperature range of -40 to 75 degrees C.


Transition Networks' new TN-EOT-CO (for the server site) and TN-EOT-RT (for the remote site) are designed to be installed in pairs and are available immediately. Transition Networks offers a range of Ethernet Extenders that deliver power along with data over Ethernet or coax cabling.

Avaya appoints Jim Chirico as CEO, enters debt reduction agreement

Avaya announced the appointment of Jim Chirico, currently its chief operating officer and global sales leader, as chief executive officer, effective October 1, 2017, while the current president and CEO Kevin Kennedy is to retire as CEO and a member of the board, but will remain as an advisor to the company.

Avaya noted that Mr. Chirico joined the company in 2008 and has since held a number of positions with the company. As COO and global sales leader, he is responsible for operations, global sales, sales operations, HR and quality.

Prior to Avaya, Jim Chirico served as EVP, global operations, development and manufacturing at Seagate Technology; previously, Mr. Chirico served as an executive with IBM, including in a leadership role for the Networking Division.

Avaya stated that under Mr. Kennedy's leadership, the company transitioned into a software and services company, with for the second fiscal quarter of 2017 software and services accounting for approximately 79% of Avaya's total revenue. Mr. Kennedy also played a key role in positioning the company for its emergence from Chapter 11 proceedings following the divestiture of the Networking business.

Separately, Avaya announced preliminary financial results for its most recent third quarter, ended June 30, 2017, including revenue of between $802 and 804 million, flat sequentially and down 9% year on year, with adjusted EBITDA of $202 to 206 million.

Avaya also announced that it has entered into a plan support agreement (PSA) with holders of over 50% of its first lien debt, including certain members of the Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Creditors, and that it had reached agreement with U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to provide for the termination of the company's obligations under the Avaya pension plan for salaried employees (APPSE) and the related transfer of those obligations to PBGC, with the support of the Ad Hoc First Lien Group.

Key terms of the amended plan include: the reduction of debt by more than $3 billion from pre-filing levels; the settlement and transfer to PBGC of Avaya's obligations under the APPSE; and initiation of steps to enable the company to emerge from chapter 11 as a public company.


Extreme to acquire Avaya networking for $100m with winning bid



Extreme Networks announced that, having entered into an asset purchase agreement under which it would serve as primary bidder in a sale under the bankruptcy code to acquire Avaya's networking business for approximately $100 million, it has been approved as the winning bidder to acquire the Avaya business.Under the bidding process, the assets of Avaya's networking business unit will be sold to Extreme f





Intel sees rapid shift from enterprise to cloud, increased NFV spending

Intel beat financial expectations when it released its Q2 2017 financial results in late July.  The company cited strong growth in its client computing (up 12 percent) and data-centric businesses (up 16%). The good earning report builds on the marketing momentum it established in the quarter with the launch of its Intel Core X-Series family of processors, which are designed for advanced gaming, AR and VR client applications, as well as its Intel Xeon Scalable processors for data centres, artificial intelligence (AI) and other data-intensive workloads. The recent Xeon launch was covered here previously.

Because Intel holds such a dominant and strategic position in the IT ecosystem, its quarterly report is often an excellent measure of the industry’s overall health and an early indicator of significant trends that will impact global network traffic.

The Q2 review

For Q2 2017, Intel reported revenue of $14.8 billion, up 9% year-over-year. After adjusting for the Intel Security Group (ISecG) transaction, which was spun out as an independent company on April 3rd and now known by its original name of McAffee, Intel’s Q2 revenue growth was even better – up 14% from a year ago. Operating income was $3.8 billion, up 190% year-over-year, and non-GAAP operating income was $4.2 billion, up 30%. EPS was $0.58, up 115% year-over-year and non-GAAP EPS was $0.72, up 22%. For Q2, Intel generated approximately $4.7 billion in cash from operations, paid dividends of $1.3 billion, and used $1.3 billion to repurchase 36 million shares of stock.

To top off the good news, Intel raised its full-year revenue outlook by $1.3 billion to $61.3 billion and raised its EPS outlook to $2.66 (GAAP) and $3.00 (non-GAAP), a 15 cent increase over the previous guidance.

Key Business Unit Revenue and Trends
Quarterly Year-Over-Year
Q2 2017
vs. Q2 2016
Client Computing Group
$8.2 billion
up
12%
Data Center Group
$4.4 billion
up
9%
Internet of Things Group
$720 million
up
26%
Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group
$874 million
up
58%
Programmable Solutions Group
$440 million
down
5%
*Data-centric businesses include DCG, IOTG, NSG, PSG, and all other

Clearly a lot of hot areas and promising technologies at Intel

For the Data Center Group, Intel said its current 9% annual growth rate in Q2 probably can be sustained for the whole year – a fantastic result considering that service provider spending overall, including for mobile infrastructure in developed markets, appears to have stalled. Capex budgets may not be restored to normal levels as a percentage of carrier revenue until the 5G upgrade cycle gets under way.

On its Q2 investor conference call, company execs commented that by 2021 the silicon opportunity for data centres could be worth $65 billion per year and that Intel is currently less than 40% of the total available segment today. Beyond its Xeon processors for cloud servers, Intel is chasing adjacent product categories, including Ethernet, Silicon Photonics and its 3D XPoint memory. Its goal is to rule the full data centre rack, and not just the server motherboard.

Cloud and communications service providers

For Intel's DCG, sales for public cloud zoomed up 35% year over year. On the other hand, enterprise data centre spending declined 11%. The two figures are clearly related, with a rapid shift of workloads to the public cloud underway. One can presume many of these to be new workloads. At the time of deployment, companies are signing up for public cloud capacity instead of buying new servers for their enterprise data centre. Or simply, when servers are ready to be retired, enterprises are moving their workloads to the public cloud rather than buying new servers.

Intel cited communication service providers as another growth vector for DCG. Revenues here rose 17% year over year. For Intel, this is good news as it would seem to indicate that network functions virtualisation (NFV) is finally taking hold. Previously, there have been statements from AT&T and Orange revealing an accelerated schedule to migrate large percentages of their network function workloads onto virtualised infrastructure, i.e. x86 platforms.

Leading deployments with the top-tier communications service providers have been underway for the past year. Intel’s 17% growth rate for CSPs seems to indicate a broader adoption base for NFV. If this growth can be sustained, one should expect other companies in the NFV ecosystem to start showing results as well, such as companies offering virtual network functions (VNFs) such as firewalls and load balancers. The NFV movement has had a very long incubation cycle, and now the real spending by CSPs for Intel gear will be a boost for many players.

Together, the cloud and CSP segments make up nearly 60% of Intel’s total DCG revenue. The other segments include the IoT Group, where Q2 revenues were up 26% to $720 million; the non-volatile memory solutions group (NSG), where sales were up 58% to a record $874 million; and the programmable solutions group (PSG), formerly Altera, where revenue declined 5% to $440 million. Intel completed its $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera in January 2016, so it now has a track record of over one full fiscal year in managing the group’s business. The group specialises in field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

A further note regarding Intel and CSPs

On its Q2 investor conference call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the company is making inroads with its 5G strategy as there are now five ongoing trials underway with global service providers and 15 more in the pipeline. We know from earlier announcement that Intel’s office in Austin, Texas became the first customer site for AT&T’s pilot 5G network in December 2016. The 5G fixed wireless pilot in Austin is delivering and ultra-fast Internet connection and DIRECTTV NOW using Ericsson's 5G RAN and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform.

Mobileye acquisition approaches completion

As Intel makes its transition from a PC-oriented company into a data-centric company it is seeking adjacent opportunities either through internal development or acquisitions. One topic on everyone's mind in Silicon Valley is autonomous driving. In this area, it looked like NVIDIA was moving faster to capture the huge opportunity in next gen transport systems. For instance, the newly unveiled Tesla Model 3 is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 AI computing platform. To counter this, in March Intel announced plans to acquire Mobileye, a developer of machine vision systems for automated driving, in a deal valued at $14.7 billion.  Mobileye, based in Israel, claims to be the leading market position in computer vision for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Its portfolio includes surround vision, sensor fusion, mapping, and driving policy products. Mobileye's EyeQ chips are already installed in 16 million vehicles as of 2016. Mobileye currently has OEM relationships with GM, VW, Honda, BMW, PSA, Audi, Kia, Nissan, Volvo, Ford, Renault, Chrysler, SAIC and Hyundai. Mobileye reported 2016 revenue of $358 million and gross margin of 76%. For2017, it should bring in more than $1.6 billion in revenue. Intel said its Mobileye acquisition will be completed by the end of the year.

MeriTalk: federal agencies planning to adopt converged infrastructure

MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT, has announced the results of its latest report, Converged: At the Core of IT All, which examines federal agencies' plans for implementing converged infrastructure solutions to address data centre demands.

The MeriTalk study, underwritten by Cisco and NetApp, finds that 59% of federal agencies are adopting to converged infrastructure solutions as part of their current data centre strategies, while 23% have multiple converged solutions in place. Based on a five-year outlook, the study finds that the average federal agency has a target of transforming 55% of data centres to converged infrastructure solutions by 2022.

MeriTalk notes that modern mission demands are changing the way the government delivers data centre solutions, which is prompting the shift to converged infrastructure. Currently, the study reveals that 72% of federal IT managers believe converged infrastructures will become the central housing mechanism for their data centre needs.

In terms of drivers for the move to invest in converged infrastructures, the study finds that while cost savings are a significant factor, current users of converged systems also cite improved data protection, increased scalability and optimising mission-critical apps as key motivators for the deployment of the new technology.

In addition, MeriTalk notes that converged infrastructures align with the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), as 60% of agencies leverage converged infrastructure to replace working data centres.

However, the study shows that although 57% of current converged users experience growth in operational efficiency, issues remain relating to security, budget and interoperability concerns. In particular, 44% of federal IT managers cite security concerns as the main disincentive to the adoption of a converged infrastructure solution.

The full report, Converged: At the Core of IT All, can be downloaded here: https://www.meritalk.com/study/converged-at-the-core-of-it-all/(registration required).

Regarding the study, Rob Stein, VP, U.S. public sector, at NetApp, said, "The road to an integrated IT system should not be a daunting one… most (existing) data centres and related systems cannot keep up with the growing amount of data within federal agencies… integrating all the pieces of the data centre together radically simplifies data management, especially in the new hybrid cloud world".


Monday, August 7, 2017

Brocade Sells its SDN Controller to Lumina, a start-up

Lumina Networks, a start-up based in San Jose, California, has acquired Brocade Communications' OpenDaylight-powered SDN Controller product family.

Lumina also brings along with key technical team members from Brocade and existing customer engagements with some of the world’s largest service providers.

Lumina said its OpenDaylight solution will enable service providers to directly control their SDN implementations while providing the flexibility to develop their own solutions through their choice of vendors thus eliminating lock-in.  Lumina also offers NetDev Services to help organizations transform their network engineering and operations team.


“Our job is to be the catalyst to help service providers bring open software networking out of the lab and into their live network,” said Andrew Coward, chief executive officer, Lumina Networks. “We started Lumina Networks to ensure providers can use open source in critical use cases. But just delivering technology is not enough. Our customers are doing the implementation with us, so they can learn and acquire the skills, tools and practices needed to develop and manage the platforms we jointly deploy.”

Lumina’s product portfolio includes:
  • Lumina SDN Controller: A fully tested, documented and quality-assured edition of OpenDaylight, that provides a common open platform to control the network and manage its nodes.
  • Lumina Flow Manager: A controller-based application that enables more simplified and sophisticated traffic engineering of the network with advanced algorithms such as path-computation for efficient traffic flows.
  • Lumina Zero Touch Installer: A controller-based application that provides initialization of devices, such as virtual CPE, with the correct software image and configuration automatically.


https://www.luminanetworks.com

Microsoft advances its cloud initiative

Following publication of its better-than-expected quarterly results on July 20th, the headlines could not have been more positive for Satya Nadella and his efforts to restructure Microsoft around the cloud, as shown by the following:

Bloomberg - Microsoft Regains Turnaround Momentum on Strong Cloud Growth

MarketWatchMicrosoft is challenging Amazon for cloud throne

New York Times - Microsoft Is Rewarded for Turning to the Cloud

Wall Street Journal - Microsoft Profit Jumps, Fueled by Cloud Computing

The numbers were good, with revenue for fourth fiscal quarter of 2017, ended June 30th, of $23.317 billion, up from $20.614 billion a year earlier. Net income (GAAP) amounted to $6.515 billion, up from $3.122 billion a year earlier.

Highlights include:

•   Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 6% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 43% (up 44% in constant currency).

•   Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 13% (up 13% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 27.0 million.

•   Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 7% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 74% (up 75% in constant currency).

•   LinkedIn contributed revenue of $1.1 billion during the quarter.

•   Server products and cloud services revenue increased 15% (up 16% in constant currency) driven by Azure revenue growth of 97% (up 98% in constant currency).

•   Enterprise Services revenue decreased 3% (down 1% in constant currency) with declines in custom support agreements offset by growth in Premier Support Services.

Azure growth is hot

Azure's 97% year-over-year growth comes in contrast to IBM, often ranked as the No.4 public cloud service provider, which last week reported that its cloud revenue grew 17% YoY in Q2 2017, led by as-a-service offerings, which were up 32% year-to-year. IBM's total cloud revenue was $15.1 billion for the last 12 months and XaaS revenue was $8.8 billion at an annual exit run rate in the quarter, up 30% year to year (up 32% adjusting for currency).

Amazon is expected to release its Q2 financial report on July 27th, perhaps giving insight into how fast the leading public cloud vendor continues to grow now that we have passed the mid-year market. As of the end of Q1 2017, Alibaba’s Aliyun cloud division reported a 103% annualised growth rate.

However, it is difficult to make any direct comparisons between Microsoft's cloud growth rate, or Azure growth, to competitors due the various products that are rolled in. However, one can observe some of the announced metrics that illustrate the development of the overall public cloud market.

Microsoft states:

•   It is on-track to meet a $20 million annual run rate for cloud service in FY 18.

•   It is gaining early 120,000 new Microsoft Azure subscriptions a month.

•   40% of Azure revenue comes from start-ups and independent software vendors.

•   80% of Fortune 500 now on Microsoft Cloud (although the utilisation rate is not specified so in some cases this could mean a Office 365 subscription rather a full-scale enterprise installation).

•   1.2 billion people are using Microsoft Office.

•   Facebook recently deployed Office 365 for its more than 13,000 employees globally.

•   Nearly 1 in 3 Azure virtual machines are Linux.

•   400 million active users for Outlook.com.

•   More than 400 million devices running Windows 10, citing security as the primary upgrade reason to Windows 10, with the recent WannaCry ransomeware incidents impacting earlier versions of Windows.

Building up its reseller channel for the cloud

Microsoft has long relied on partners and independent value added reseller to drive a substantial amount of its business. Over the years, this has included local resellers installing Office, Windows and Exchange solutions on behalf of small and medium-sized businesses worldwide.

Microsoft's Inspire partnership conference in Washington, DC, which ran from July 9th to 13th, attracted about 17,000 people. At the event, Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, vowed that this partnership strategy will continue in the cloud era. With its Azure public cloud, Microsoft sales reps are paid up to 10% of the partner's annual contract value when they co-sell qualified Azure-based partner solutions. Microsoft says it is unique among public cloud vendors in providing this level of opportunity, providing powerful go-to-market differentiator. Microsoft said it now has more than 64,000 cloud partners, more than AWS, Google and Salesforce combined. CSPs can sell the full stack of services and subscriptions, including Windows 10, Office 365, Microsoft Azure and CRM subscriptions through a single partner with one user account, one point of contact for support and one simplified bill.

Now Microsoft is testing a new Azure co-sell program for partners. In its first six months, Microsoft claims that this program helped close more than $1 billion in annual contract value for Azure partners, created $6 billion in Azure partner pipeline opportunity and generated more than 4,500 partner deals.

Gearing up for the new offers

The company is now gearing up to launch Microsoft 365, a new set of commercial offerings that brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It promises to be a 'complete, intelligent and secure solution' to empower companies and workers, recognising that people are at the heart of digital transformation.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is the evolution of the company's Secure Productive Enterprise offering, and includes Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. This is targeted at large organisations.

In enterprise private cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Azure Stack is now available to order from launch partners Dell EMC, Lenovo, and HPE. Cisco has also announced integrated Azure Stack for its UCS platform. Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft's public cloud that enables enterprises to run the same software environment in their private data centres. Azure Resource Manager ensures that the same application model, self-service portal, and APIs are operative across either the private, public or hybrid cloud.

Microsoft is also encouraging partners to capitalise on opportunities leveraging Azure data centres and the 'edge of the cloud'. Azure Stack partners cited include Rackspace, Tieto and Resello.

Microsoft 365 Business, which will also be available in public preview from August 2nd, is targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses with up to 300 users and integrates Office 365 Business Premium with tailored security and management features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It also includes a centralised console for deploying and securing devices and users in one location.

Microsoft has also launched a new Skype Operations Framework, an end-to-end deployment methodology for partners to deliver Skype for Business Online to their customers. The company describes this as a blueprint for a new practice area. Recently added capabilities include Skype for Business meetings and voice services in Office 365, adding PSTN Calling in the UK, and expanded PSTN Conferencing to additional countries. Microsoft is also refining automatic transcription and translation for Skype Meeting Broadcast to Office 365 customers.

Bringing the Cloudyn acquisition on board

This week, Microsoft also completed its previously-announced acquisition of Cloudyn, a start-up based in Israel that developed hybrid, multi-cloud monitoring and optimisation solutions. Cloudyn's automated monitoring, analytics and cost allocation tools help customers maximize the efficiency of public cloud operations. Microsoft plans to make Cloudyn available to all Azure customers. The company also said that its new Cloudyn business unit will continue to invest in supporting multi-cloud environments including Azure, AWS and GCP.

Video: Extending MEF's LSO Architecture


Stéphan Pelletier, MEF Orchestration Area Co-Director and Director of Product Management, Oracle, discusses how LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs will enable end-to-end service orchestration across multiple service provider networks and multiple technology domains. LSO will help overcome the biggest OSS-related obstacles that have impeded delivery of on-demand services across providers. Stéphan explains why Oracle has embraced LSO and is playing a lead role in contributing to LSO development within MEF.

See video: https://youtu.be/yHxa7Y2_GEk


ZTE acquires 48% stake or Turkey's Netas

ZTE announced that it has completed its previously announced transaction for the acquisition of a 48.04% holding in Istanbul-based Netaş Telekomünikasyon of Turkey; in December last year, ZTE announced a proposal to acquire the stake in Netas through an agreement with OEP Turkey Tech BV, a portfolio company managed by One Equity Partners.

ZTE stated that the investment, made through subsidiary ZTE Cooperatief UA, is intended to strengthen Netas' product and service capabilities and support the company's growth in Turkey and international markets.

Netaş is a major systems integrator in Turkey and has an established presence in international markets. Leveraging the agreement with ZTE, Netas expects to be able to accelerate its growth worldwide. The company has advanced ICT R&D capabilities in Turkey and has supported development of a range of technology innovations.

Working with ZTE, Netas' aims to strengthen and expand its global software solutions business, which it claims has deployed its solutions with more than 200 operators worldwide. In particular, the company's ULAK 4.5G project, as well as other solutions including cyber security products, will become available in more international markets through ZTE's global presence.

When announcing the planned acquisition last December, ZTE noted that Netas generated revenue of approximately $371 million for the fiscal year 2015 from customers in sectors including telecom carriers, banks, government and enterprise, and that the company operated the largest private R&D centre in Turkey with around 800 engineers.

ZTE also stated that under the proposed agreement, Netaş would remain an independent company, but would have access to the ZTE portfolio of products, services and solutions, while Netaş' range of ICT solutions would be made available to ZTE customers worldwide.

Regarding the transaction, Dr. Zhao Xianming, CEO of ZTE, said, "ZTE's vision, know how and patent portfolio, with Netaş' expertise in VoIP, IT, GSM-R, cyber security and other technologies, will bring (new) solutions to the ICT industry… ZTE will assist Netaş to strengthen its R&D capabilities and support its current 4.5G solutions to make ULAK more competitive globally… Netaş will (also) bring solutions such as its IoT platform to ZTE's customers".


  • At the time of the original announcement, Netaş, which is listed on the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange, was owned 48.04% by OEP Turkey Tech, 15.0% by the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, with 36.96% publicly held. OEP Turkey Tech acquired its stake in Netas from Nortel in 2010.

SoftBank launches Twin Access mobile access service

NEC announced that it will contribute to the provision of a highly reliable, business-oriented mobile network-powered access service, Twin Access, which SoftBank is planning to offer to business customers in Japan.

SoftBank's Twin Access is an access service that uses two mobile network connections to maintain constant, active connectivity between NEC line terminal equipment, the NEC Agater AG2521, and centre-based devices that feature virtualisation technology.

Through the use of Packet Copy Capsuled (PCC) technology developed jointly by SoftBank and NEC, the new service is designed to offer improved transmission quality with higher packet delivery rates than conventional single mobile line systems, enabling more stable and reliable communications.

The two companies plan to conduct field trials of the solution towards the full-scale launch of Twin Access as a commercial service by October this year. SoftBank stated that it plans to begin offering the new service to customers in Japan as part of the access line-up for its Smart VPN service.

Regarding the new service, Takenori Kobayashi, VP, Network Division at SoftBank, commented, "Because of its high quality of service, Twin Access can be used at locations where fibre lines are not available, or as an alternative to wired lines such as DSL or digital access… in addition, by utilising the features of mobile networks, such as their freedom from cable installations, Twin Access makes it possible to build flexible, economical, short-term networks, such as temporary networks".

Ghost Comm launches Gig broadband in Baltimore

Ghost Communications based in Beltsville, Maryland, announced it is launching what is believed to be the highest speed fibre-based broadband services in Maryland for businesses and multi-tenant residential locations in Baltimore.

Ghost Communications delivers high speed, secure networks and serves businesses, government, healthcare and educational institutions in the Maryland and Washington DC/northern Virginia markets. In the Baltimore region, the company provides gigabit Internet service from $250 a month, with access at up to 10 Gbit/s available priced from $700 a month.

Ghost Communications claims to offer the fastest broadband speeds in Baltimore, providing access speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s. Its services also include a SLA with a network availability guarantee of 99.995%, packet loss guaranteed not to exceed 0.01% and latency not to exceed 1.5 milliseconds within the Maryland and Washington DC area.

Ghost Communications offers customers the option of either shared or dedicated gigabit speed fibre services as well as cloud connectivity services to major cloud providers including AiNET Cloud Services (ACS), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apple iCloud and Microsoft Azure.

In addition, the company builds fibre optic networks and deploys dark fibre, allowing customers to deliver dark fibre links to the specific locations and data centres they require. Ghost Communications states that to date it has deployed around 10,000 miles of fibre.


Cisco completes acquisition of Viptela for $610m

Cisco announced that it has completed the acquisition of Viptela, a privately held start-up company focused on software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology based in San Jose, California, for approximately $610 million in cash and assumed equity awards under an agreement originally announced in May, 2017.

Viptela has developed a secure overlay fabric for SD-WAN, cloud onramp and Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) applications for enterprise clients. The Viptela fabric is designed to enable separation of control, data, management and orchestration layers and integrates routing, security and policy controls and application awareness across all elements in the system. A key feature of the solution is integrated authentication, encryption, segmentation and access controls.

Viptela has announced major deployments of its fabric solution with customers including Verizon, Singtel and NTTPC of Japan.

Cisco noted that it already offers the software-based Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) and Meraki SD-WAN solutions, with the Viptela acquisition intended to enable it to accelerate the development of next generation SD-WAN solutions. The Viptela team will join Cisco's Enterprise Routing team within the Networking and Security Business, led by SVP David Goeckeler.


* In June, Cisco unveiled its 'intent-based' networking solutions that are designed to provide an intuitive network able to continuously learn and adapt and automate and protect processes and services to provide organisations with an intelligent and secure platform for digital transformation. The acquisition of Viptela will support its strategic transition towards a software-centric, subscription-led networking model.

* Cisco stated that it plans to commit significant engineering resources to deliver next-generation SD-WAN solutions based on Viptela's technology. Cisco will combine Viptela's cloud-first network management, orchestration and overlay technologies with its existing enterprise routing platforms and solutions.

* Cisco, which was an investor in Viptela, entered into an agreement to acquire the company for $610 million from equity investors including Redline Captial, Northgate Capital and Sequoia Capital. The company was founded in 2012 and had raised total funding of approximately $108 million in four rounds, including $75 million in a Series C funding round announced in May 2016.

ZTE and Singtel trial Pre5G massive MIMO

ZTE announced that it has partnered with Singtel to complete the live deployment of the 2.6 GHz Pre5G massive MIMO network at one Marina Bay site in Singapore to enhance Singtel's 4G user experience ahead of Singapore's National Day celebrations.

ZTE noted that its Pre5G massive MIMO is suitable for high-density scenarios and will be deployed to help guarantee service quality during the high data traffic volumes that will result from the crowd gathered at the location during Singapore National Day.

ZTE stated that after site commissioning, the Pre5G massive MIMO cell experienced a significant increase in throughput, shared the traffic volume of busy macro-station cells and enabled significantly improved network speed to user terminals, as well as an enhanced user experience and increased overall service throughput in the region.

Separately, Singtel announced plans to deploy massive MIMO technology on its commercial LTE-Advanced network and using recently acquired 2.5 GHz spectrum with the aim of enhancing data rates by up to 200% at special events for its customers.

Singtel stated that it will team with Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE to deploy massive MIMO technology at the Marina Bay area, and will initially roll out the technology for the forthcoming National Day celebrations, with further deployments planned for the Singapore F1 Night Race and the New Year countdown event.

Singtel noted that it has identified massive MIMO as one solution to address growth in data traffic volume, and that it will specifically use massive MIMO base stations with an array of 64 antennas designed to improve spectral efficiency and cell capacity. The new antenna system channels signals to users' specific locations instead of broadcasting across a wide area, so multiplying the number of data paths from the base stations.

Singtel currently provides Singapore’s fastest national mobile data speeds of 450 Mbit/s, and recently launched 800 Mbit/s speeds in selected high-traffic locations.

MaxxSouth expands DOCSIS 3.1 in Mississippi

MaxxSouth Broadband, a subsidiary of media holding company Block Communications, announced it has completed the network upgrade to provide up to 1 Gbit/s Internet broadband services to all of Oxford and to Starkville's surrounding areas, providing students and these communities with increased broadband speeds.

Utilising DOCSIS 3.1 technology, combined with the existing fibre-to-the-home services that MaxxSouth launched last year, the company is now able to offer all Oxford residents and a number of Starkville areas access to gigabit Internet speeds.

MaxxSouth has also announced that the towns of Bruce, Calhoun City, Derma, Houston and Vardaman now have access to the gigabit Internet broadband service, as part of its network enhancements. The company is demonstrating the gigabit service to Mississippi residents at its new retail location at 1901 Jackson Ave. West Oxford. MaxxSouth is planning to continue upgrading its broadband network.

MaxxSouth offers video, high-speed Internet and digital phone services across its service area that extends over more than 200 miles and includes 20 counties and 61 communities in northern Mississippi and Alabama. The company claims approximately 85,000 subscribers for broadband services and passes around 110,000 homes.

Regarding the expansion, Peter Kahelin, president and CEO of MaxxSouth, commented, "MaxxSouth (is) continuing the expansion of advanced Internet, video and telephony services into other communities throughout central and northern Mississippi… the ultimate goal is that the 61 municipalities that comprise our coverage area will have access to these new technologies".


Friday, August 4, 2017

SoftBank deploys Cisco NCS with Segment Routing

Cisco Systems GK announced that SoftBank of Japan has adopted the Cisco Network Convergence System 5500 Series to enable high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet routing and Segment Routing technology to optimise network operations for its next-generation mobile IP core network.

Cisco noted that mobile carriers such as SoftBank not only face the need to respond to the demands of user growth by delivering higher communication speeds, lower latency and dynamic provisioning that will be enabled by 5G networks, but also to deliver new mobile services to home and enterprise markets. SoftBank is planning to upgrade and expand its existing equipment that supports mobile Internet traffic, which is forecast to increase at a rate of 50% per year.

As part of this initiative, SoftBank has upgraded the core routers used in its existing network to the Cisco NCS 5500 Series, which is capable of supporting 576 x 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports. This capacity will enable the company to build a next-generation mobile IP core network able to meet the bandwidth demands from the deployment of new services such as IoT and mobile video.

Cisco noted that the next-generation mobile IP core network is able to support high-traffic volume and to reduce fault recovery time to help improve the processes for ensuring the high reliability of services in the event a fault occurs.

In addition, SoftBank has become the first company in Japan to introduce Segment Routing technology provided by Cisco, which is designed to simplify and optimise the mobile IP core network and facilitate the automation of network operations.

Cisco's Segment Routing TI-LFA capability is designed to reduce fault recovery time while also improving reliability and redundancy. This can enable the provisioning of a more reliable mobile network while delivering an enhanced user experience for SoftBank's consumer and corporate customers.

Through the deployment, SoftBank is aiming to become more competitive by enabling the rapid, flexible deployment of reliable services leveraging a core network that can support traffic demand while providing low operating costs.

Cisco noted that according to its recent Mobile Visual Networking Index Forecast (VNI) 2016-21, global mobile data traffic will increase seven-fold to 1.4 zettabytes over the period, driven by increasing mobile users, smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT), higher network speeds and rising mobile video consumption.

Peak 10 completes acquires ViaWest from Shaw for $1.67bn

Peak 10, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced that it has completed its acquisition of ViaWest through an agreement announced on June 13, 2017, positioning the combined company as a major national provider of hybrid IT solutions including colocation, interconnection, cloud, managed solutions and professional services with more than 4,200 customers nationwide.

The combined solution portfolio of the new company is designed to help organisations with their IT transformation projects while addressing cost, scalability, compliance and security requirements.

Following the combination, the company, renamed Peak 10 + ViaWest, offers a suite of assets that spans 20 domestic and international markets. The company operates 40 redundant data centres, 2.7 million sq feet of data centre space, 13 cloud nodes and more than 10,000 cross connects, supported by 1,000-plus dedicated staff. Through the combination, customers will gain increased scale and geographic coverage.

To support the company's increased geographic footprint and strategic growth, Peak 10 + ViaWest has expanded its senior leadership team. Chris Downie will remain as chief executive officer, while Nancy Phillips will serve as the executive chair of the board of the combined company.


  • ViaWest was acquired by Peak 10 from Canada's Shaw Communications. The transaction involved a share purchase agreement with GI Partners portfolio company Peak 10 to buy ViaWest for approximately C$2.3 billion ($1.675 billion).

Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm Demo LAA at 953 Mbit/s

Verizon announced that in what is believed to be a U.S. wireless industry first, it has partnered with Ericsson, and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, to demonstrate a mobile data rate of 953 Mbit/s in a joint commercial network deployment in Boca Raton, Florida.

Verizon noted that while lab tests have achieved comparable speeds in recent demonstrations, this is the fastest speed announced to date that has been achieved in a real-world, dynamic network environment leveraging Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

The demonstration utilised commercially available Verizon network components including a cell site, hardware, software and backhaul, with Ericsson providing the advanced remote radio head. The Ericsson micro Radio 2205 for LAA, designed for unlicensed spectrum use, is compact, provides for flexible mounting and is a component of the Ericsson Radio System, an end-to-end modular radio network portfolio of hardware and software designed for any site type and traffic scenario as networks transition towards 5G.

In addition, for the trial Qualcomm Technologies provided a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform test device equipped with Gigabit LTE capability leveraging the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

Verizon stated that the latest demonstration used a combination of the latest 4G LTE wireless technologies to deliver the higher mobile speeds. Technology employed included carrier aggregation, which enables multiple spectrum channels to be combined to allow data to be carried more efficiently and faster peak speeds.

Verizon noted that it was the first U.S. carrier to launch LTE Advanced with two channel carrier aggregation nationally last year, and has subsequently completed the deployment of three channel carrier aggregation using its licensed spectrum.

To achieve latest near-gigabit mobile speeds, Verizon used a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for the first time. The four carrier aggregation utilises LAA to combine its spectrum holdings with unlicensed spectrum via home and commercial WiFi connectivity.

The demonstration with Ericsson and Qualcomm Technoogies also involved technology including 4 x 4 MIMO, which uses multiple antennae at the cell tower and on consumers' devices to optimise data rates, 256QAM, allowing customer devices and the network to exchange information in larger amounts and thereby to deliver more bits of data in each transmission.



  • Recently, AT&T announced that it had achieved mobile speeds of 650 Mbit/s using LTE and LAA technology in a field trial working with Ericsson, while T-Mobile announced it had demonstrated 741 Mbit/s mobile data rate in a field trial of LAA technology.