Thursday, February 15, 2018

Juniper revs new Ethernet switches for the multicloud world

Juniper Networks introduced a new line of Ethernet switches designed for the new era of multicloud networking, where the assumption that distributed enterprises will access resources from multiple data centers is a reality.

The rollout includes new switches for the enterprise data center, campus, and branch, as well as a new cloud-based management platform called Sky Enterprise. Junos remains central to all of the new products and the rest of the existing switching portfolio.

“The promise of multicloud is to deliver an infrastructure that is secure, ubiquitous, reliable and fungible and where the migration of workloads will be a simple and intuitive process,” said Bikash Koley, chief technology officer at Juniper Networks. “For IT to be successful in becoming multicloud-ready, it is critical organizations consider not only the data center and public cloud, but also the on-ramps of their campus and branch networks. Otherwise, enterprises will face fractured security and operations as network boundaries prevent seamless, end-to-end visibility and control.”

Highlights of the announcement include:

  • A new QFX10002-60C "universal" switch for data center spine, data center edge and data center interconnect (DCI).  It features 60x100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) deep-buffer interfaces. 
  • A new QFX5210-64C 64x100GbE port spine switch
  • A new QFX5200-48Y 48x25GbE top-of-rack switch
  • A new QFX MACsec line card addition for the QFX10000 modular switches. This card provides 30-port 100GbE connectivity for encrypted traffic in and between data centers.
  • Juniper Sky Enterprise - a cloud management service that enables operators to deploy, configure and manage switching and security devices, reducing change errors by up to 90 percent. Sky Enterprise also gives network operators visibility into wireless access points using Aerohive Hive Manager NG API integration.
  • New EX2300 and EX4300 compact switches for campus networks. The EX4300 multigig switch supports POE++ for new applications and MACsec to enable a secure on-ramp to the cloud. The EX9250 switch is a compact campus core that gives enterprises multiple fabric options by supporting both Junos Fusion and EVPN-VXLAN.
  • New NFX150 Network Services Platform for branch offices. This combines native branch security and hybrid WAN functionality with wireless 4G and LTE connectivity between branches. Built as an extensible platform, it can run third-party virtual network functions (VNFs).
  • Contrail SD-WAN with new subscription-based pricing: Juniper’s Contrail SD-WAN solution bundles the SRX Series Services Gateway and the NFX Series with the platform and orchestration software required for multicloud-ready SD-WAN. New subscription pricing bundles provide several physical and virtual endpoint options with secure SD-WAN management.  

Intel intros 4 and 8 TB SSDs based on 64-layer 3D NAND

Intel introduced its first SSD designed for data center applications.

The Intel P4510 Series drives uses 64-layer TLC Intel 3D NAND. The density enables up to four times more terabytes per server and delivers up to 10 times better random read latency at 99.99 percent quality of service than previous generations. Intel says its drive can also deliver up to double the input-output operations per second (IOPS) per terabyte.

The 1 and 2TB capacities have been shipping to cloud service providers (CSPs) in high volume since August 2017, and the 4 and 8TB capacities are now available to CSPs and channel customers.

All capacities are in the 2.5-inch 15 mm U.2 form factor and utilize a PCIe* NVMe 3.0 x4 connection.


To help replace legacy storage hardware, Intel is also introducing two new technologies:


  • Intel Volume Management Device (VMD), which is included with Intel Xeon Scale processors, enable robust management such as surprise insertion/removal and LED management of PCIe SSDs directly connected to the CPU. 
  • Intel Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) uses Intel VMD to provide RAID to PCIe SSDs. Replacing RAID cards with Intel VROC yields up to twice the IOPs performance and up to a 70 percent cost savings with PCIe SSDs directly attached to the CPU.


Intel also noted that the Enterprise and Datacenter SSD Form Factor specification was recently ratified by the EDSFF Working Group, which includes Intel, Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook and others.

Intel has been shipping a pre-spec version of the Intel SSD DC P4500.

  •  In August 2017, Intel introduced its  "ruler" form factor for SSD. Instead of the traditional, 2.5" or 3.5" rectangular box for disk drives, Intel's ruler is a long, thin box designed to slide in to a 1" server chassis, plugging in via a PCIe interface at the end of the ruler. It is a slick design. Apart from looking better, the long, thin shape dissipates heat easier. Intel showed a 1” RU server chassis accommodating 32 of these SSD rulers, creating up to 1 petabyte of storage. Intel could offer Optane SSDs and/or 3D NAND SSDs in this form factor.

Arista posts Q4 revenue of $468 million, up 43% yoy

Arista reported Q4 2017 revenue of $467.9 million, an increase of 6.9% compared to the third quarter of 2017, and an increase of 42.7% from the fourth quarter of 2016.
GAAP gross margin of 65.7%. Non-GAAP net income of $137.3 million, or $1.71 per diluted share, compared to non-GAAP net income of $77.5 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Full-year 2017 revenue amounted to $1.6 billion, an increase of 45.8% compared to fiscal year 2016.

"2017 represents a market tipping point with Arista’s disruptive software-driven architecture gaining mainstream acceptance as we surpassed 15 million cumulative ports of cloud networking,” stated Jayshree Ullal, Arista President and CEO.

Telefónica develops an original content channel for Latin America

Telefónica is going into the business of original content development and distribution for Latin America.

The carrier's upcoming Movistar+ Series will launch in more than 13 countries in 2018 with original content as its differentiating element.  The new channel will be available to Movistar clients in Chile, Colombia, and Peru on February 15, and will be added to the Movistar offer in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Uruguay soon thereafter.

“As a group, Telefónica is stressing its capabilities as creator of original fiction contents and its broad multi-platform scope. The operation that is being announced today will make it possible for the Movistar series to arrive to more than 13 countries in 2018, making it possible to reach 3.8 million Pay TV customers in Spain and more than 3 million Pay TV homes in HisPam. The more than 110 million Movistar mobile clients in the region must be added to this scope, all of which would also have access to these contents”, stated Sergio Oslé, president of Movistar+.

Oracle acquires Zenedge for cloud-based network security

Oracle agreed to acquire Zenedge, which helps enterprises secure their IT systems whether deployed in cloud, on-premise or hybrid hosting environments. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Zenedge, which is based in El Segundo, California, offers Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation products. The company said its products help defend over 800,000 web properties and networks globally.

Oracle said the Zenedge acquisition will help expands its Cloud Infrastructure and Domain Name System (DNS) capabilities, adding innovative application and network protection that augments existing Oracle security services and partnerships.

"Customers demand enterprise-grade infrastructure to run their critical business systems in the cloud," said Don Johnson, Senior Vice President of Product Development, Oracle. "Oracle Cloud Infrastructure as a Service delivers leading cloud services to address those needs. The combination with Zenedge equips Oracle Cloud Infrastructure with integrated, next-generation network and infrastructure security, to address modern security threats."

"Customers achieve tremendous results with Zenedge's innovative WAF and DDoS mitigation products, from a 99% reduction in illicit website traffic to a 99.75% improvement in page load times," said Yuri Frayman, CEO of Zenedge. "We could not be more enthusiastic about joining forces with the leader in enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure, and delivering similar results to even more customers at scale."

CommScope intros next gen C-RAN

CommScope introduced a next-gen, all-digital C-RAN antenna system that centralizes and virtualizes baseband radio assets in preparation for 5G.

The CommScope Era platform's Wide-area Integration Node (WIN) resides in the C-RAN hub and routes baseband capacity to a distribution point within the served building or campus. Capacity re-allocation, soft re-sectorization, system setup and diagnostics are all software functions. The platform also transports Gigabit Ethernet backhaul to each remote node, which can be used for separate Wi-Fi networks, IP security systems or to support a small cell overlay needed for future network expansion.

The company said its design enables operators to deploy a centralized headend that serves multiple buildings, or even to tap capacity from an existing centralized radio access network (C-RAN) hubs. Baseband capacity is allocated where it is needed while reducing the amount of onsite head-end equipment and the amount of fiber needed for signal transport by up to 90 percent.

“We have invested heavily to create an all-digital platform architecture that upends the economics of in-building wireless and ushers in a new era and standard for distributed antenna systems,” said Matt Melester, senior vice president, Distributed Coverage and Capacity Solutions, CommScope. “CommScope Era will be a key enabler for network densification in LTE Advanced, Gigabit LTE and 5G.”

Verisign: 332.4 million total domain names with growth under 1% per year

As of the end of 2017, there were approximately 332.4 million Internet domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs), according to Verisign.

During 2017, there were approximately 1.7 million domain name registrations globally, which equates to a growth rate of 0.5 percent over the third quarter of 2017.

Some additional points:

  • the .com domain name base totaled 131.9 million domain name registrations 
  • the .net domain name base totaled 14.5 million domain name registrations. A full report is online.


The worldwide smartphone market stagnates

Smartphone sales figures from Q4 2017 are now mostly in and the reports confirm what many analysts suspected. The worldwide market for smartphones has stagnated and even begun to decline, perhaps because penetration rates in most countries have reached maximum levels, or perhaps because the replacement cycle is not nearly as fast as was once expected.

The smartphone sales trend is significant because it has been a leading predictor of bandwidth growth. Two years, if a mobile operator only had 25% of its subscribers using smartphones and enrolled in a 4G data plan, it was a sure bet that revenue and bandwidth growth would occur. Now, with most millennial customers packing a modern Android or iOS smartphone, it is not so certain that this growth will continue at the same pace. Bandwidth growth will come from usage and not simply millions of new smartphone users joining the network each month. This trend is playing out in the U.S., which reached 4G saturation much earlier, as well as China and India, which have been the big growth stories more recently.

Certainly, pricing for the flagship devices from Apple, Samsung, Google and LG has put off many consumers from upgrading their smartphones just on a whim. At the $900 to $1000 or more price range, device manufacturers are testing the limits of consumer budgets and many folks seem to be holding off.

Preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker indicates that indeed a contraction in the smartphone business occurred in 2017. IDC says smartphone vendors shipped a total of 403.5 million units during the fourth quarter of 2017 (4Q17), resulting in a 6.3% decline when compared to the 430.7 million units shipped in the final quarter of 2016. For the full year, the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1.472 billion units shipped, declining less than 1% from the 1.473 billion units shipped in 2016.



 "In the presence of ultra-high-end flagships, the still high-priced flagships from the previous generation seemed far more palatable to consumers in 2017," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "Many high-profile companies offered their widest product portfolio ever in hopes of capturing a greater audience. Meanwhile, brands outside the top 5 struggled to maintain momentum as value brands such as Honor, Vivo, Xiaomi, and OPPO offered incredible competition at the low end, and brands like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei maintained their stronghold on the high end."

IDC’s study also provides an update on the big brands:

Apple experienced a slight downturn from the previous holiday quarter as iPhone volumes reached 77.3 million units, a year-over-year decline of 1.3%. Although demand for the new higher priced iPhone X may not have been as strong as many expected, the overall iPhone lineup appealed to a wider range of consumers in both emerging and developed markets. Apple finished second for the full year in 2017 shipping 215.8 million units, up 0.2% from the 215.4 million units shipped in 2016. 

Samsung remained the overall leader in the worldwide smartphone market for 2017 despite losing out to Apple in the fourth quarter. The Korean giant shipped 74.1 million units in 4Q17, down 4.4% compared to the 77.5 million units from last year. Samsung finished the year with 317.3 million shipments, up 1.9% from the 311.4 million shipments in 2016. 

Huawei continues to hold the number three position despite intensified competition from growing Chinese players such as OPPO and Vivo. Huawei shipped 41.0 million units, down 9.7% from the 45.4 million shipped in the fourth quarter of 2016. The 2017 results look much better for the Chinese giant as the Honor brand helped pushed sales both inside and outside of China. Huawei shipped 153.1 million units, up 9.9% from the 139.3 million unit shipped in 2016. Recent aspirations for breaking into the U.S. market are on hold as both AT&T and Verizon recently cut ties to bring Huawei flagships to the U.S. 

Xiaomi managed to double its share to 7% from 3.3% during the holiday quarter last year. This comes as no surprise since the company has continued to focus on growth outside China, with India and Russia being two of its largest markets. The company has been expanding its number of Mi Stores and Mi Service Centers, with fast buildout coming in markets like Indonesia. In India, Xiaomi also launched Redmi Y-series in India and roped in Bollywood celebrity Katrina Kaif to endorse the selfie-centric smartphone series as its first product endorser. The Redmi 5A, which was launched at US$78, saw more than a million devices being sold within a month. 

OPPO dropped one place to the 5th position as the company shipped 27.4 million smartphones while managing to maintain 12% growth for the full year, amounting to 111.8 million smartphones. Like Xiaomi, OPPO has also managed to move beyond the domestic Chinese market and gain a foothold in other Asian countries like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In Indonesia, it launched the new F5 series in 4Q17 and also announced its partnership with AOV, a MOBA game. 

A second research report, from Strategy Analytics, found that global smartphone shipments tumbled 9 percent annually to reach 400 million units in Q4 2017. Strategy Analytics crowns Apple with a first place finish at 19% global marketshare, nudging Samsung into second position. Xiaomi continued its relentless rise, almost doubling smartphone shipments from a year ago.

Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “The shrinkage in global smartphone shipments was caused by a collapse in the huge China market, where demand fell 16 percent annually due to longer replacement rates, fewer operator subsidies and a general lack of wow models. However, on a full-year basis, global smartphone shipments grew 1 percent and topped an impressive 1.5 billion units for the first time ever.”

 “OPPO shipped 29.5 million smartphones during Q4 2017, unmoved from 29.5 million units in Q4 2016. OPPO was growing smartphone shipments at a 99 percent annual rate a year ago, but its growth has now dropped to zero. The golden age for OPPO is coming to an end and it is facing serious competition from Xiaomi and others. Xiaomi soared 87 percent annually, taking fifth place with 27.8 million shipments, more than doubling its global smartphone marketshare to 7 percent in Q4 2017, up from 3 percent a year ago.”


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cisco returns to growth, announces $25 billion stock repurchase plan

Cisco reported revenue of $11.9 billion for its second quarter of fiscal 2018, net loss on a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) basis of $(8.8) billion or $(1.78) per share, and non-GAAP
net income of $3.1 billion or $0.63 per share.

Due to the recently passed tax reform legislation, Cisco took a $11.1 billion charge.

Cisco has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.33 per common share, a 4-cent increase or up 14% over the previous quarter’s dividend.

Cisco’s board of directors has also approved a $25 billion increase to the authorization of the stock repurchase program.

“We had a great quarter which demonstrates that our strategy is working. Our business is growing, we have a fantastic innovation pipeline, our balance sheet is strong and we have a team that’s executing incredibly well,” said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco. “The network is more critical to business success than ever, and our new intent-based networking portfolio has great momentum including the fastest ramping new product in our history.”

Some highlights:

GAAP total gross margin and product gross margin were 63.1% and 61.5%, respectively. Product gross margin increased compared with 61.1% in the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

The total customer base for Catalyst 9000 switching platform more than doubled to reach over 3,100.

Product customer segment revenue:

  • Enterprise +3%
  • Public Sector +8%
  • Commercial +14%
  • Service Provider (-5%)

Revenue growth by geography:

  • Americas +6%
  • EMEA +6%
  • APJC 0%

There was $5.5 billion in deferred revenue from recurring software subscriptions, up 36% yoy.

Equinix to acquire iconic Infomart Dallas colo data center for $800m

Equinix has agreed to acquire the Infomart Dallas data center, including its operations and tenants, from ASB Real Estate Investments for $800 million.

The iconic Infomart building, which is located at 1950 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas, is one of the largest interconnection hubs in the U.S. and one of the largest buildings in Texas at 1.6 million square feet (147,094.2 m2) over 7 floors.Infomart is currently home to four of eight Equinix Dallas International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers (DA1, DA2, DA3 and DA6), which combined, support approximately 3,500 built out cabinets.

Equinix said the transaction increases the number of its owned assets by four, increasing recurring revenue from owned assets to more than 45 percent. The facility offers multiple, diverse fiber entry points, and provides significant expansion opportunities to Equinix through the existing underdeveloped capacity (approximately 11MW of power), as well as the potential to develop additional capacity (approximately 40MW of power) on land adjacent to the Infomart building. It currently has approximately 45 tenants, including networks, colocation providers, office tenants and Equinix. Today, Equinix is the largest tenant accounting for approximately 40 percent of the lease revenues from the facilities




Qualcomm pushes LTE to 2 Gbps with 7nm Snapdragon X24 Modem

by James E. Carroll

Qualcomm introduced an LTE modem supporting up to 2 Gbps download speeds, pushing 4G to new performance levels.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem is the industry's first-announced chip built on a 7 nanometer FinFET process. It is also Qualcomm's eighth generation LTE multimode modem and third generation Gigabit LTE solution and the world’s first commercially announced Category 20 LTE modem.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem delivers 2x the speed of the Company’s first generation Gigabit LTE modem. The Snapdragon X24 supports up to 7x carrier aggregation in the downlink, as well as 4x4 MIMO on up to five aggregated LTE carriers – both mobile industry firsts – for a total of up to 20 concurrent spatial LTE streams.

Qualcomm said mobile operators could allow devices that feature the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem to utilize all spectrum assets available whether in licensed spectrum or with License Assisted Access (LAA). Additional system capacity improvements are made possible through support of Full Dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO), a Massive MIMO technology that is foundational to future 5G NR networks. In the uplink, Snapdragon X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3x20 MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.

The Snapdragon X24 LTE modem pairs with an advanced RF transceiver built in 14 nm FinFET process technology, and the Qualcomm QET5100 Envelope Tracker, making it the first announced modem to support 60 MHz envelope tracking for up to 3x uplink carrier aggregation channels with simultaneous High Power User Equipment (HPUE) support in Band 41, engineered to deliver power-efficient connectivity for the next generation of mobile devices

One additional feature, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem brings support for the concurrent multi-constellation multi-frequency global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

The chip is currently sampling Qualcomm will host demos of the X24 LTE at Mobile World Congress in conjunction with Ericsson, Telstra and NETGEAR.

“As the world’s first announced Gigabit LTE modem to achieve speeds of up to 2 Gbps, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019,” said Serge Willenegger, senior vice president and general manager, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT, Qualcomm Wireless GmbH. “Further expanding on the use of 4x4 and LAA capability, the Snapdragon X24 packs a powerful array of the most advanced 4G LTE technologies commercially available, helping mobile operators to fully mobilize their spectrum assets and maximize the capacity of their Gigabit LTE networks, and mobile device makers to offer consumers a tangible glimpse of our 5G future”.

Qualcomm debuts Wireless Edge Services for enterprise and IoT security

Qualcomm is introducing a set of trusted software services rooted in its chipset architecture and designed to meet the requirements of new enterprise and industrial IoT customers to securely provision, connect and manage long life-cycles of billions of intelligent wireless devices through their cloud platforms.

The idea with Qualcomm wireless edge services software is to provide predictability and security throughout a device's entire lifecycle. By rooting a trusted service within the silicon, a device can be on-boarded and managed in a predictable way. These trusted services would be exposed through new APIs and available on Qualcomm chipsets – initially its MDM9206, MDM9628 and QCA4020 – and later on, select Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms. Capabilities include plug n play onboarding, on-demand, over-the-air feature activation, emergency and routine upgrades as well as third-party service enablement throughout the device life-cycle.

Large enterprise, industrial cloud providers and users could use the capabilities to provision and manage massive amounts of connected 4G and 5G devices in a trusted, security-rich and scalable manner. Qualcomm said its wireless edge services can provide strong protection against compromised devices and network attacks through hardware-based device integrity.

“With the introduction of Qualcomm wireless edge services, we continue to evolve and augment our leading Snapdragon portfolio to better serve our expanding base of customers across many industries and unlock the potential associated with trusted wireless access to billions of increasingly capable edge devices” said Serge Willenegger, senior vice president and general manager, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT, Qualcomm Wireless GmbH. “We are excited by the initial response from cloud, enterprise and industrial companies and are looking forward to working with them as well as our traditional customers to accelerate the transformative opportunity supported by advanced security, intelligence and wireless connectivity capability at the edge.”

Qualcomm cited ecosystem support from Alibaba, Baidu, Mobike, Quectel and others.

Equinix hits 2017 sales grow rate of 21%

Equinix reported Q4 2017 revenue of $1.200 billion, up 27% over the same period last year. Full-year 2017 revenues amounted to $4.368 billion, a 21% increase over the previous year, including $359 million of revenues from the acquisition of 29 Verizon data centers. Net income for the full year was $233 million.

"In addition to strong financial performance, Equinix achieved a number of significant milestones around interconnection, innovation and acquisitions in 2017 that add even more value to our role as a strategic partner to companies in the execution of their digital business strategies. As we approach our 20th anniversary and reflect on what we've built, we believe our platform will become even more important for our customers in the years to come. We have a clear vision of our strategy and the opportunities ahead, and we are looking forward to another successful year," stated Peter Van Camp, Executive Chairman and Interim CEO and President, Equinix.

In its quarterly update, Equinix also announced new expansions in the Culpeper, Houston, London, Paris, São Paulo, Silicon Valley, Sofia and Washington, D.C. metros totaling more than $500 million of capital expenditures.

Some additional highlights:


  • 2017 CAPEX was $1.379 billion, up 21% yoy
  • Total crossconnects at the end of Q4 were 277,800, up 21% yoy





Ciena brings enhancements for 5G

Ciena announced a series of enhancements to its product set to help operators scale their current 4G networks, while simultaneously preparing for the impending evolution toward 5G.

Ciena said its 5G Network Solutions are designed to provide scale and automation. The solutions are composed of Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical (6500 and Waveserver) and Packet Networking (3900 family, 5100 family, 8700 Packetwave) platforms – as well as new products and capabilities, including:

  • New deterministic packet capability that will support 4G/5G converged fronthaul/midhaul networks offering digital radio transport over standards-based Ethernet
  • New IP functionality that will provide the necessary connectivity features required for IP-based network infrastructures
  • Programmable Network Slicing capabilities that will allow network operators to logically partition and virtualize network resources from Layer 0 to Layer 3
"With expected 5G performance gains ranging from 1,000 times the volume of data to ten times the reduction in latency, operators need to prepare their end-to-end wireline network now. As the industry leader in coherent optical, edge packet platforms, automation, and multi-domain service orchestration, Ciena is uniquely positioned to support operators through every step of their multi-year journey to a common wireline infrastructure that supports 4G and beyond,” stated Steve Alexander, Chief Technology Officer, Ciena.

Huawei launches urban 5G “Wireless to the Home” CPE trial with TELUS

Huawei launched an end-to-end user trial for “Wireless to the Home” (WTTx) 5G service using a specially-designed 5G CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) unit in downtown Vancouver..

The trial is being conducted as a “5G Living Lab” in collaboration with TELUS. Initially, the 5G fixed service is being delivered to the home of TELUS employees.

In addition to the unique 5G in-home equipment, the network utilizes the 5G gNodeB and related elements built as part of the TELUS/Huawei 5G Living Lab. The trial system operates on the 28GHz mmwave band with 800 MHz of bandwidth and includes many 3GPP key technologies, such as Massive MIMO, F-OFDM, and Polar Code.

"mmWave technology will be an important tool in ensuring widespread deployment of 5G technology in Canada. Huawei’s 5G solutions and terminals will enable 5G coverage over a neighbourhood or small community cost effectively, while providing more convenient and high-speed home broadband Internet access services." said Dr. Wen Tong, Huawei Fellow, and CTO Huawei Wireless, "This friendly user trial will drive the global 3GPP unified 5G standard and build a solid foundation for the 5G early commercialization."

CommScope expands its portfolio of 4xMIMO antennas

CommScope introduced new antenna models that support 4xMIMO (4T4R multiple input/multiple output), advanced modulation and carrier aggregation of unlicensed frequency bands.

Late last year, CommScope introduced a 4xMIMO, ultra-wideband antenna for the 1400 MHz–2700 MHz range.  The company has also released an extensive antenna portfolio for FirstNet operating in the 700 MHz band. The company continues to add antennas to its portfolio that support different frequency band combinations in 4-, 8- and 12-port configurations, with 4xMIMO support on both low and high bands.

CommScope also offers a high gain, small cell antenna with 4xMIMO functionality in the 1.7–2.7 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands, plus 2x2 MIMO support in the 5 GHz band.

CommsScope said this antenna enables operators to use carrier aggregation for License Assisted Access (LAA) to combine unlicensed bands with licensed bands to reach gigabit speeds at small cell sites. This antenna will also help operators be ready for Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

“Gigabit LTE is a localized phenomenon, meaning each cell site requires different approaches and solutions for adding capacity and throughput,” said Dr. Marty Zimmerman, engineering fellow, CommScope Mobility Solutions. “Antenna selection is an important factor for macro sites as well as small cells where unlicensed spectrum will be utilized.”

CommScope also introduced an integrated antenna solution based on xRAN open interface specifications. The 5G radio/antenna solution supports millimeter-wave spectrum and works on a completely virtualized baseband with an open interface. This solution integrates a beamforming active antenna array operating at 28 GHz and will be available for trial with a third-party baseband platform to create a high performance and highly flexible 5G access network.

 “Our integrated antenna will enable the full capabilities of 5G millimeter-wave spectrum bands while offering maximum flexibility in an evolving air-interface environment,” said Farid Firouzbakht, senior vice president, RF Products, CommScope. “As a contributing member to the xRAN organization, we endorse the benefits of an open baseband interface for enabling more innovation in the wireless marketplace.”

U.S. Intelligence officials warn against Huawei and ZTE

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, five senior national security officials from the CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, and NGA each said the equipment and services from ZTE pose a significant risk to government users and to U.S. national interests.

The testimony centered on the questions of values, of proximity to the Chinese government, and of establishing positions of power in the market rather than on technical merits or specific security threats posed by equipment from these vendors.


Will mobile networks be ready for Waymo's driverless ride-hailing service?

by James E. Carroll

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has confirmed an order for several thousand of the Pacifica Hybrid minivans to be delivered to Waymo, the autonomous car subsidiary of Alphabet (Google's parent company) this calendar year for deployment in several U.S. cities. Although the actual size of the order was not disclosed, it is believed to be between 3,000 and 10,000 autonomous vehicles. You may have already seen driveless Waymo minivans on the streets in live testing. Last year, FCA delivered 500 of the Pacifica minivans, adapted for self-driving, to Waymo for the test fleet. An earlier batch of 500 Pacificas was delivered in late 2016. The vehicles have racked up over 4 million miles (6.4 million kilometres) of testing on U.S. streets so far.

With this order for thousands of self-driving Waymos, the prospect of a commercial launch is in sight. For mobile network operators, this could be a golden opportunity. The question is whether mobile operators are bidding for this business.

"With the world's first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we've moved from research and development, to operations and deployment," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. "The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale."

Although we do not know which mobile operator(s) Waymo has been working with, we do know that the connection from vehicle to the network must be LTE at best, as none of the big four operators have 5G trial networks in place for this level of testing.

Two conclusions can be drawn. (1) The autonomous vehicle R&D programs are ahead of the 5G movement. (2) the first generation of autonomous vehicles may not require 5G at all.
In many ways, 5G networks promise to be an ideal platform for autonomous vehicle fleets. Think about:
(a) reduced network latency
(b) dense small cell deployments ideally near street level in urban cores
(c) high bandwidth throughput
(d) network slicing
(e) enhanced security

Autonomous vehicle fleets would also be the ideal 5G customer for mobile operators. Let's say an operator such as Waymo procures and deploys a fleet of 5,000 vehicles. The connectivity requirement will be 24/7. These vehicles are described as "data centers on wheels." Some estimates say each autonomous vehicle could generate 4TB of data daily. Of course only a percentage of that data would need to be offloaded in real time, if at all, but clearly the

Background on Waymo

Waymo began developing its self-driving platform in 2009. At the time it was known as Google's Self-Driving Car project and was led by Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View.  The Waymo identity was adopted in December 2016. The company remains based at the Google campus in Mountain View, California.

Late last year, Waymo began test driving the Pacifica minivans in the Phoenix metro region without anyone in the driver's seat for some months. The test program has been expanding rapidly since then. Just after the New Year, Waymo announced that Atlanta would be its 35th test city,
In its 9-year of development, Waymo has worked on every aspect of its forthcoming Transportation-as-a-Service platform.  Its software is perhaps the key differentiator that will set it apart from the many fast followers. It is also the subject of the ongoing lawsuit launched by Waymo against Uber regarding purportedly stolen intellectual property.

Beside Fiat-Chrysler, we know that Waymo is working with a few other technology suppliers. Waymo’s cloud service provider, of course, is Google. On the hardware side, Intel has disclosed that it supplied sensor processing, general compute and connectivity technologies for Waymo's test fleet of Pacifica minivans. This includes Xeon processors, Arria FPGAs, and Gigabit Ethernet and XMM LTE modems. The partnership between Intel and Waymo was cited in a blog post by  Brian Krzanich in September.

Collecting mapping and other data from the fleet

At CES 2018, Intel disclosed that its Mobileye next-generation aftermarket collision avoidance system is capable of "collecting dynamic data to make cities smarter, safer and Autonomous Ready."
The idea is to harvest valuable information on city streets and infrastructure to create high-definition crowdsourced maps. Mobileye is developing a Road Experience Management (REM) to make this easier. Many companies, as well as government authorities, will see value in harvesting this data from the vehicle. Collecting this data need not require an autonomous vehicle. Plenty of regular buses, taxis, and trucks criss-cross cities every day on established routes. Retrofitting these vehicles for mass-scale data gathering can be as simple as installing a single camera and sensor, along with a mobile broadband connection. In fact, Mobileye has announced a number of players who are already moving in this direction:

  • The city of Dusseldorf, Germany is expected to equip 750 vehicles with Mobileye 8 Connect to investigate the suitability of Dusseldorf’s existing infrastructure for autonomous vehicles and connected driving. The project is funded by the German federal government.
  • London black cabs will be fitted with Mobileye 8 Connect to create an HD map of the city. Gett, a start-up working on mobility solutions, will equip approximately 500 London black cabs this year.
  • New York City will also get an HD map based on Mobileye crowdsourced data. Buggy TLC Leasing, which provides leasing of vehicles for ride-sharing services such as Uber, is expected to outfit approximately 2,000 New York City-based vehicles with Mobileye Aftermarket.
  • Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance will equip approximately 1,000 to 2,000 trucks with Mobileye 8 Connect to generate an HD map of where these vehicles operate.¬¬¬


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Google Cloud offers TensorFlow processors, delivering teraflops for ML

Cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) are now available in beta on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The Cloud TPUs are a family of Google-designed hardware accelerators that are optimized to speed up and scale up specific machine learning (ML) workloads programmed with TensorFlow.

Google's TPUs are built with four custom ASICs. Each Cloud TPU packs up to 180 teraflops of floating-point performance and 64 GB of high-bandwidth memory onto a single board. The boards can be connected via an ultra-fast network to form multi-petaflop ML supercomputers. These "TPU pods" will be available on GCP later this year.

The Cloud TPUs can be programmed with high-level, open source TensorFlow APIs. GCP is making a number of reference Cloud TPU model implementations available, including:

  • ResNet-50 and other popular models for image classification
  • Transformer for machine translation and language modeling
  • RetinaNet for object detection

Google adds that its cloud TPUs can also simplify the planning and management of ML computing resources. By purchasing the service, users benefit from the large-scale, tightly-integrated ML infrastructure that has been heavily optimized at Google over many years. The cloud TPUs are protected by the security mechanisms and practices that safeguard all Google Cloud services.

Google Builds a Custom ASIC for Machine Learning

Google has developed a custom ASIC for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) is tailored for TensorFlow, which is an open source software library for machine learning that was developed at Google.

In a blog posting,  Norm Jouppi, Distinguished Hardware Engineer at Google, discloses that the TPUs have already been in deployment in Google data centers for over a year, where they "deliver an order of magnitude better-optimized performance per watt for machine learning." The stealthy project to develop in-house silicon has been underway for several years.

A number of Google applications are already running on the Tensor Processing Units, including RankBrain, Street View, and the AlphaGo application that recently defeated the Go world champion, Lee Sedol.

Google plans to deliver machine learning as a service on its Google Cloud Platform by providing APIs for computer vision, speech, human language translation, etc.

https://cloudplatform.googleblog.com/2016/05/Google-supercharges-machine-learning-tasks-with-custom-chip.html


  • TensorFlow was originally developed by the Google Brain team and released under the Apache 2.0 open source license in November 2015. At the time, Google said TensorFlow can run on multiple CPUs and GPUs.

Verizon completes its first 5G call

Verizon completed its first over-the-air call on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio (NR) system using licensed millimeter wave spectrum.

The call, which was completed at Nokia’s facility in Murray Hill, New Jersey earlier this month, used Nokia's 5G CloudRAN solution, which is comprised of the Nokia AirScale baseband and radio, AirFrame server, and AirScale Cloud RAN running 5G NR 3GPP-compliant software. Qualcomm provided 5G NR prototype devices in smartphone form factors.

The companies described the test as an important milestone on the road to preparing Verizon’s network for widespread implementation of commercial 5G mobile services for consumers and enterprises.

“With this first 3GPP NR standards-based connection, Verizon continues to lead the development of 5G technology,” said Ed Chan, senior vice president and chief technology architect, Corporate Network & Technology, Verizon. “By partnering with Nokia and Qualcomm to combine 5G technology with our deep millimeter wave spectrum, we’re well on the way to being the first to usher in the next era of wireless communications for customers.”

“Nokia’s 3GPP-compliant high-capacity 5G solution supports pioneering operators like Verizon in leveraging their assets to make a true difference with 5G for their customers,” said Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks, Nokia. “Using the successful interoperability testing we conducted with Qualcomm as a basis, we’re now applying our standard-compliant 5G technology in this trial with Verizon to push the commercialization of 5G.”

Verizon, Qualcomm and Novatel to expedite 5G NR mmWave rollout

Verizon, Qualcomm Technologies, and Novatel Wireless, are pushing ahead with plans to expedite the rollout of 5G New Radio (NR) millimeter wave (mmWave) technology.  The companies have agreed to collaborate on over-the-air field trials based on the 5G NR Release-15 specifications being developed by 3GPP, with hopes of moving the mobile ecosystem towards faster validation and commercialization of 5G NR mmWave technologies at scale before the end of the decade.

The expedited plan call for an initial focus on 5G NR operation in 28 GHz and 39 GHz mmWave spectrum bands. The goal is to achieve robust multi-gigabit per second data rates with mobility at significantly lower latencies than today’s networks. Over-the-air trials are expected starting in 2018, that will be compliant with the first 3GPP 5G NR specification that will be part of Release 15. The trials will utilize 5G NR mmWave mobile test platforms from Qualcomm and will employ advanced 5G NR Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques.


Qualcomm shows 5G NR mmWave prototype

Qualcomm unveiled a 5G NR mmWave prototype system based on the 5G New Radio (NR) Release-15 specifications.  Peak download speeds of up to 5 Gbps are possible.

The prototype system, which operates in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum bands above 24 GHz, demonstrates how advanced 5G NR mmWave technologies can be utilized to deliver robust mobile broadband communications at multi-gigabit-per-second data rates in real-world mobile environments.

Qualcomm's prototype leverages the company's optimized mmWave RF Front-end design in a smartphone form-factor to test and trial real-world mmWave challenges, such as device and hand-blocking. It employs Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive analog beamforming and beam tracking/steering techniques, which is required for robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments and device mobility. It also supports 800 MHz bandwidth and advanced 5G NR technologies including LDPC channel coding for data channels.