Monday, February 26, 2018

Cisco backs Open vRAN initiative for disaggregated mobile networks

Cisco is backing a new, open virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) initiative aimed fostering end-to-end, software-defined mobile networks. Additional backers include Altiostar, Aricent, Intel, Mavenir, Phazr, Red Hat and Tech Mahindra to spur rapid innovation in both hardware and software domains.

Reliance Jio is the first carrier to join.

While virtualization already plays a key role in other domains of mobile networking, such as in the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS), the Gateway Internet LAN (Gi-LAN) and data transport, backers of this initiative say that the RAN still has not benefitted from disaggregation.

Cisco and the other ecosystem parties plan to focus on assembling viable solutions that build on an open and modular architecture. Priorities include activities that simplify the transition to Open vRAN and software-defined mobile networks including:

  • Testing and integration
  • Solutions validation
  • Transport evolution
  • Publishing performance benchmarks
  • Running Proof of Concepts (POC)
  • Coordinating roadmaps for end-to-end solutions
  • Creating and validating network management templates

“In collaboration with the ecosystem vendors, we aim to make the Radio Access Network more open and flexible, enabling the deployment of additional value-add mobile services at the network edge,”  said Tareq Amin, senior vice president, Technology Development and Automation, Reliance Jio. “Through this innovation and collaboration we will be able to deliver a better user experience for our customers.”

“We believe it is an ideal time to align and collaborate on these issues to deliver innovative solutions ready for commercial deployment,” said Yvette Kanouff, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Service Provider Business. “Together with the ecosystem parties, we’re making leaps forward in developing a customer-centric ecosystem focused on accelerating innovation and enabling new business models to dramatically lower costs, add capacity and improve network performance.”

GTT's acquisition of Interoute would add 72K km of European fiber to its transatlantic cables

GTT Communications agreed to acquire Interoute, operator of one of Europe’s largest independent fiber networks and cloud networking platforms, for approximately €1.9 billion ($2.3 billion) in cash.

Interoute's European fiber backbone spans 72,000 route kilometers connects nearly 200 data centres and colocation facilities.  Interoute also owns 15 of its own data centers and 33 colocation facilities. Its customers include international enterprises, as well as the world’s major service providers, ICPs and OTT providers. The company also operates 18 Interoute Virtual Data Centres (VDCs) globally, including three in Asia-Pacific, which are tied into its fiber backbone. In October 2017, Interoute launched its "Edge SD-WAN" service.

Interoute offers transport services (wavelength, Carrier Ethernet, managed bandwidth, storage connect, IP transit, cloud connect) and infrastructure services (dark fiber and data center colocation).

Interoute reported revenues of €718 million and adjusted EBITDA of €165 million for the 12 months ending September 30, 2017.

GTT said the merger contributes significant infrastructure, edge and hosted services to its network, as well as over 1,000 strategic enterprise and carrier clients, primarily headquartered in Europe.

In January 2017, GTT acquired Hibernia Networks and its five subsea cables, including Hibernia Express, the lowest latency transatlantic cable system, and eight cable landing stations, new global points of presence, and key clients in the financial services, media and entertainment, web-centric and service provider segments.

“The acquisition of Interoute represents a major milestone in delivering on our purpose of connecting people, across organizations and around the world,” said Rick Calder, GTT president and CEO. “This combination creates a disruptive market leader with substantial scale, unique network assets and award-winning product capabilities to fulfill our clients’ growing demand for distributed cloud networking in Europe, the U.S. and across the globe. Following our successful, proven acquisition model, we expect to complete this integration within three to four quarters postclose and achieve a post-synergy multiple of seven to eight times Adjusted EBITDA or better on a pro forma basis.”

“This is an exciting next chapter for Interoute, GTT, our customers and our team,” said Gareth Williams, Interoute CEO. “The combined assets and strengths of our two companies create a powerful portfolio of high-capacity, low-latency connectivity, and innovative cloud and edge infrastructure services to support our customers in the global digital economy.”


GTT acquires Amsterdam-based Custom Connect



GTT has acquired Custom Connect, an Amsterdam-headquartered provider of high-speed network connectivity serving multinational enterprises and financial trading firms. Financial terms were not disclosed. Custom Connect, which was founded by Olav van Doorn and Jan Willem Meijer, operates a carrier-neutral MPLS/IP network that integrates SD-WAN and public and private clouds alongside existing data centers, offices, and branches. Its range of services...



GTT Communications, a major global cloud networking provider serving multinational clients, announced an agreement with Jisc, the provider of digital solutions for the UK research and education community and operator of the Janet network for the delivery of Internet services.Under the agreement, GTT will provide high-speed Internet services for the Janet network to support the research and learning of its approximately 18 million UK college and university...


GTT to Acquire Global Capacity, Building its SD-WAN



GTT Communications agreed to acquire Global Capacity, a provider of enterprise network connectivity solutions, for $100 million in cash and 1.85 million shares of GTT common stock, to be issued to the sellers at closing. Global Capacity, which is based in Waltham, Mass., addresses a range of enterprise network issues including difficulty in load sharing traffic across a mix of access connections, complex, static and manual network configurations...


GTT acquires Perseus for $37.5m



GTT Communications based in McLean, Virginia, a global cloud networking provider to multinational clients, announced the acquisition of Perseus, a provider of high-speed network connectivity that serves major financial and e-commerce companies worldwide.GTT stated that the purchase price for Perseus was $37.5 million, plus the assumption of approximately $3 million in capital leases. GTT anticipates that the purchase price will rep


Intel enters 5G pact with China's Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA

Intel announced a strategic alliance with Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA, a core subsidiary of Tsinghua Unigroup.

The plan is to develop a 5G smartphone platform for the China market that will feature an Intel 5G modem and will be targeted to coincide with 5G network deployments in 2019.

“Undoubtedly, China will be an important market at the forefront of 5G. Together with Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA, Intel looks forward to making a 5G smartphone experience a compelling reality for consumers in China,” said Chenwei Yan, vice president in the Client Computing Group and general manager of Connected Products and Programs at Intel. “Intel is working with industry partners and network operators to accelerate 5G technology innovation across network, client and cloud. Through this effort, we will bring our modem expertise from years of research and development in driving standards, conducting trials, and building platforms to create a seamlessly connected, powerfully smart 5G future.”

“We are very excited to collaborate with Intel to build a leading 5G mobile platform. Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA and Intel share the vision on transforming the mobile communication industry in the 5G era through technological innovation and innovation-driven revolution,” said Jingming Wang, vice president of Tsinghua Unigroup and COO of Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA. “Drawing on the strong potential for global industry development and Intel’s profound technology experience, Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA will persist on cultivating the 5G market and setting ourselves as a leading Chinese 5G high-end chipset brand.”

In 2014, Intel announced a minority stake investment in the holding company under Tsinghua Unigroup, which owns Spreadtrum Communications & RDA Microelectronics.

KT, Qualcomm and Samsung Achieve Multi-vendor 5G NR Interoperability

KT Corporation, Qualcomm, and Samsung Electronics have completed multi-vendor 5G NR interoperable testing compliant with the 3GPP Release-15 Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G NR global standard.

The live, over-the-air interoperable testing demonstrated data connections operating in 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands, utilizing pre-commercial 5G NR base stations from Samsung and 5G NR UE prototype devices from Qualcomm.

The end-to-end 5G NR interoperability testing included scalable 5G NR OFDM numerology, advanced 5G NR channel coding and modulation schemes, low-latency 5G NR slot structure and 5G NR control and data channel support for Massive MIMO and mobile mmWave.

The vendors reported multigigabit downlink speeds, as well as latencies as low as 1 millisecond.

“KT has worked closely with Samsung and Qualcomm Technologies on testing innovative mobile technologies,” said Seo, Chang-Seok, executive vice president and head of network strategy unit, KT. “KT believes that this 5G NR trial will pave the way to a successful launch of 5G NR networks and mobile devices.”

“As the industry works toward the goal of commercial launches of 5G NR products and networks in 2019, close collaboration among global mobile industry leaders on testing and successful trials are necessary to validate the technologies and continue to build and improve our capabilities,” said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm Incorporated. “We are proud of our achievement with Samsung and KT and look forward to further collaboration on the path to making 5G a commercial reality.”

GSMA study warns the megacities could face bandwidth crunch by 2025

The world’s largest and densest cities, such as New York, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tokyo, could face a wireless bandwidth crunch in their urban cores by 2025 warns a new report published by the GSMA.

The gap between mobile data traffic demand and available network capacity could become acute, with as much as 48 percent of traffic demand going unserved in ultra-dense urban areas by 2025. The report cites the rise of 5G and IoT as potentially increasing demand by 50 percent.

The GSMA report makes six key recommendations for policymakers to promote infrastructure investment:

  • Release additional affordable spectrum: Greater availability of spectrum at fair prices could accelerate investment and have significant benefits in terms of network capacity.
  • Facilitate deployment of fronthaul and backhaul infrastructure: Successful deployment of new macro and small cells to boost network capacity requires access to backhaul networks.
  • Provide more access to advantageous macro-cell and small-cell sites: Rents for cell sites have risen steeply. Access to sites on publicly owned buildings and street furniture would remove a significant obstacle to new cell deployment.
  • Allow network sharing agreements: Permitting operators the flexibility to enter into commercial agreements on network sharing would substantially reduce capital and operating costs for operators.
  • Enable small-cell deployment: Streamlining planning approvals for widespread small cell installation could expedite network investment and increase capacity in large cities.
  • Harmonise power density limits: Regulations setting exposure to levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic files should be harmonised with internationally recommended limits.


Metaswitch lands extended reseller agreement with HPE

Metaswitch has signed a global resale agreement with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) aimed at accelerating fixed and mobile network operators’ deployments of advanced services including VoLTE and VoWiFi on private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Under the deal, Metaswitch’s core network software products, including the Clearwater IMS core and Perimeta session border controller (SBC), will be integrated with HPE’s own virtual network functions and management platforms to deliver end to end virtualized VoLTE, VoWiFi and advanced communications services.

Metaswitch said this reseller relationship builds on the previous announcement of the integration of Metaswitch’s Clearwater core with HPE’s infrastructure platforms and NFV Director orchestration platform.

“Metaswitch has established a strong track record of collaboration with HPE that is giving operators a modern and compelling alternative to more limited, legacy approaches,” said Martin Lund, CEO of Metaswitch. “Today’s announcement marks a new level of collaboration between the two companies and is a significant step forward for carriers seeking more agility and velocity in service development and delivery.”

“HPE and Metaswitch are committed to easing operator adoption of virtualized infrastructure, applications and service innovation by pre-integrating best of breed cloud-native VNFs, management and orchestration, and subscriber management offerings in a rapidly-deployable package” said David Sliter, VP and GM Communications & Media Solutions, HPE. “Metaswitch offers service providers the only truly cloud native real time communications software solutions available in the market today. Metaswitch cloud native communications software solutions complement our range of advanced subscriber management platforms, orchestration software and cloud infrastructure elements on which operators can affect real architectural transformation.”

Ericsson announces first Energy Infrastructure Management contract

Ericsson announced its first Energy Infrastructure Management contract with a mobile network operator -- Crnogorski Telekom, Montenegro’s leading telecommunications service provider and a member of the Deutsche Telekom Group

Ericsson’s Energy Infrastructure Management integrates big data analytics, energy management software, and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage. The solution provides an efficient means of measuring, monitoring and maintaining energy infrastructure at a mobile tower.

Ericsson said that Crnogorski Telekom has previously used a combination of diesel generators and lead-acid batteries as a source of backup power for its cell sites. New lithium-ion batteries from Panasonic offer superior energy density, are less vulnerable to damage from excessive discharging and extreme temperatures, and require less maintenance.

Under the 10-year contract with Crnogorski Telekom, Ericsson will assume responsibility for the design, roll out and management of lithium-ion battery and power infrastructure solutions for the operator’s cell sites. Ericsson will provide these services via an Energy Network Operations Center, thereby ensuring the highest levels of energy efficiency and availability. Panasonic, Ericsson’s partner, will handle the manufacturing, supply, asset ownership, dimensioning, 10-year performance service-level agreements (SLAs), and support for battery and power infrastructure. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Peter Laurin, Head of Managed Services at Ericsson, says: “Together with Panasonic, we will reduce the cost of energy equipment ownership for targeted Crnogorski Telekom sites by up to 40 percent. This is primarily a result of Ericsson’s advanced power source selection logic, extended battery life-cycles, and the reduced need for site visits. Our offering is based on an as-a-service business model, which provides Crnogorski Telekom with immediate savings with minimal upfront investment. Energy typically accounts for anything from 10 to 60 percent of an operator’s operational expenditure.”

NETSCOUT brings NFV Service Assurance to VodafoneZiggo

NETSCOUT has been awarded a new multi-year agreement by VodafoneZiggo to support its Network Function Virtualization (NFV) transformation. Specifically, NETSCOUT will deliver end-to-end visibility and analytics into VodafoneZiggo’s converged, hybrid network to ensure the seamless delivery of services.

VodafoneZiggo is a joint venture of Liberty Global, the largest international TV and broadband internet company, and Vodafone Group. It provides fixed, mobile, and integrated communication and entertainment services to consumers and businesses in the Netherlands.

“The same NFV and virtualization technologies that drive service agility also bring significant challenges to identifying network and service performance. NFV networks do not usually operate in isolation, but rather work alongside existing physical network functions. With 360° visibility across the entire network, VodafoneZiggo can rely on our solution to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of an issue, wherever it occurs. By selecting to partner with NETSCOUT, VodafoneZiggo can move ahead with its NFV transformation with confidence that new and existing services and applications are performing optimally,” said Anil Singhal, co-founder, president, and chief executive officer, NETSCOUT.

Ranovus ships its On-Board Optics and CFP2 Direct Detect Transceivers

Ranovus announced the general availability of its 200G On-Board Optics and CFP2 optical transceiver solutions.

The devices are based on the company’s multi-wavelength Quantum Dot Laser (QDL), Ring Resonator based Silicon Photonic (SiP) modulators, Driver ICs as well as Receiver building blocks. 

Highlights of Ranovus’ 200G CFP2 and Optical Engine product features are:

  • Supporting DCI, metro access, 5G Mobility and multi-access edge computing applications
  • Supporting transmission distance of 15km, 40km and 80km+
  • Platform capable of supporting Industrial Temperature Range
  • Offering 96 DWDM channels in the C-band now and L-band in the future
  • Supporting 1.6 Tb/s 1RU Shelf Density
  •  Form factor and compatible electrical interface with CFP2-DCO
  • 56Gb/s PAM4 PHY with multiple programmable FEC options to optimize link performance
  • Full diagnostics and self-monitoring capabilities to enable high-reliability networks
Ranovus said these products are now in lab trials with multiple optical networking equipment vendors for 5G mobility and cloud infrastructure markets. A demonstration with ADVA is planned for the upcoming OFC show in San Diego.

“Our demonstration will feature transmission of 400Gb/s in an FSP 3000 CloudConnect™ terminal and over 80km of standard single mode fiber utilizing our open line system,” said Christoph Glingener, CTO/COO at ADVA. “In partnership with Ranovus, we have made impressive progress to validate direct detect technology as an effective way for data center operators to lower their cost per bit and improve energy efficiency.”

Hetzner Online connects data centers in Germany and Finland with Infinera XTS-3300

Hetzner Online, a leading web hosting and data center operator in Germany, has deployed the Infinera XTS-3300 to extend its data center business into Finland.

Hetzner Online owns several data centers in Germany and expanded its network into Finland with a subsea optical network powered by the Infinera XTS-3300 to address demand from customers in Eastern Europe and Russia. The new subsea network connects Hetzner Online’s existing metro terrestrial networks in both countries where the Infinera XTM-Series is deployed.

Infinera's XTS-3300 is a compact, high-performance subsea network solution enabling internet content providers (ICPs) like Hetzner Online to quickly deploy low-latency subsea networks.

Sequans teams with Skyworks on LTE-M/NB-IoT

Skyworks Solutions, a developer of analog semiconductors, and Sequans Communications announced a jointly-developed connectivity engine for next generation LTE devices.

Specifically, the new solution combines Skyworks’ front-ends with Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT platform. The feature-rich product includes an integrated baseband, SRAM, RF transceiver, RF front-end, passives and power management in a single 8.8 x 10.8 x 0.95 mm package with proprietary RF shielding. It is compliant with 3GPP Release 13/14 LTE Advanced Pro specifications, including VoLTE support, is optimized for LTE UE categories M1, NB1, and NB2 and operates across broad frequency ranges (700 MHz to 2.1 GHz) to support global deployment and roaming capability. Proprietary power management techniques offer improved battery life. The solution has been pre-certified with leading operators through existing certifications of Sequans’ Monarch platform.

“Through our collaboration with Skyworks, we have created one of the most critical LTE engines for IoT available in the world today,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. “Our comprehensive and powerful module incorporates every major component needed to enable the widespread deployment of LTE devices on any band, in an extremely small and thin package. This new form factor represents a truly ground-breaking architecture for a broad range of applications.”

All data centre traffic becomes cloud data centre traffic

Cisco is now predicting that global cloud data center traffic will reach 19.5 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2021, up from 6.0 ZB per year in 2016 – a 3.3-fold growth, representing a 27 percent compound annual growth rate from 2016 to 2021.  By that year, the Cisco forecasters will have a very difficult time distinguishing regular data centre traffic from cloud data centre traffic.  Fully 95 percent of data centre traffic will be cloud data centre traffic.  This does not necessarily mean public data centre traffic, just that nearly all data centres, public and private, will have adopted cloud virtualisation technologies by that date. Cisco’s definition of cloud encompasses virtualisation in networks, servers, storage, applications, and services.

Earlier security concerns about sharing servers and storage resources amongst applications, even within an organisation, have given way to the forces of cost and power efficiency. Data is now much less stored and processed in a confined physical environment. More and more, even “data at rest” moves to wherever the algorithms of efficiency demand.  This has huge implications not only for large data sets moving across wide-area boundaries, but also for east-west traffic within data centre campuses.  Virtualisation means that data forever will be on the move.

The newly-published Cisco Global Cloud Index (2016-2021), which is now in its seventh annual edition, predicts that the number of hyperscale, public cloud data centres will nearly double from 338 in 2016 to 628 globally in 2021.  It will take a massive construction effort to pull this off.  Nearly every month, we report when AWS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, IBM, Oracle etc. unveils plans for new facilities. Typically, these are warehouse-sized builds on a new plot of land in a remote location, where renewable energy can be procured in quantity and at a reasonable cost. Increasingly, we are seeing these data centre campuses being built close to urban centres.
With this level of expansion, one wonders why certain telcos (Verizon, Centurylink and possible AT&T) are selling off their data centers rather than holding them as strategic assets or appreciating investment. Possbily, these facilities are too old and would required extensive HVAC upgrades to accommodate the high number and density of servers that hyperscale cloud facilities require. Or maybe they realize that simply cannot compete with the likes of AWS or Microsoft Azure, so better to exit the business sooner rather than later. It is odd given the surge in cloud data centre traffic that Cisco is predicting.

Some other key findings - by 2021, hyperscale data centres will support:

  • • 53 percent of all data centre servers (27 percent in 2016)
  • • 69 percent of all data centre processing power (41 percent in 2016)
  • • 65 percent of all data stored in data centres (51 percent in 2016)
  • • 55 percent of all data centre traffic (39 percent in 2016)
  • • By 2021, 94 percent of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centres; 6 percent will be processed by traditional data centres.
  • • Overall data centre workloads and compute instances will more than double (2.3-fold) from 2016 to 2021; however, cloud workloads and compute instances will nearly triple (2.7-fold) over the same period.
  • • The workload and compute instance density for cloud data centres was 8.8 in 2016 and will grow to 13.2 by 2021. Comparatively, for traditional data centres, workload and compute instance density was 2.4 in 2016 and will grow to 3.8 by 2021.
  • • Globally, the data stored in data centres will nearly quintuple by 2021 to reach 1.3 ZB by 2021, up 4.6-fold (a CAGR of 36%) from 286 EB in 2016.
  • • Big data will reach 403 exabytes (EB) by 2021, up almost 8-fold from 25 EB in 2016. Big data will represent 30 percent of data stored in data centres by 2021, up from 18 percent in 2016.
  • • The amount of data stored on devices will be 4.5 times higher than data stored in data centres, at 5.9 ZB by 2021.
  • • Driven largely by IoT, the total amount of data created (and not necessarily stored) by any device will reach 847 ZB per year by 2021, up from 218 ZB per year in 2016. Data created is two orders of magnitude higher than
data stored. 

  • • By 2021, big data will account for 20 percent (2.5 ZB annual, 209 EB monthly) of traffic within data centres, compared to 12 percent (593 EB annual, 49 EB monthly) in 2016.
  • • By 2021, video streaming will account for 10 percent of traffic within data centres, compared to 9 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, video will account for 85 percent of traffic from data centres to end users, compared to 78 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, search will account for 20 percent of traffic within data centres by 2021, compared to 28 percent in 2016.
  • • By 2021, social networking will account for 22 percent of traffic within data centres, compared to 20 percent in 2016.
  • •  By 2021, 75 percent (402 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be SaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 71 percent (141 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • • By 2021, 16 percent (85 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be IaaS workloads and compute instances, down from 21 percent (42 million) in 2016. (15% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • • By 2021, 9 percent (46 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be PaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 8% (16 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).


Metaswitch and Cloudify partner of NFV automation

Metaswitch and Cloudify are partnering to automate NFV management and orchestration (MANO) for global operators, increasing service agility and reducing service-affecting manual errors.

Under the deal, Metaswitch will OEM Cloudify’s virtual network functions management (VNFM) capabilities in delivery of its own VoLTE TAS, vSBC and vIMS VNFs and the two companies are collaborating closely in customer engagements, bridging gaps in operators’ NFV MANO systems.

Cloudify is a TOSCA-based open source cloud orchestration platform that helps operators to transition from non-virtualized appliances to virtualized, and ultimately cloud-native architecture with full lifecycle management and orchestration as well as service function chaining.

“Cloudify and Metaswitch share a long-standing commitment to lowering the barrier to entry for carriers looking to transition to new cloud-native services,” said Nati Shalom, CTO, Cloudify. “Together we deliver a simplified solution for achieving a more agile service environment through a convergence of networks and IT systems from an infrastructure and process perspective.”

“The biggest obstacle to achieving the full potential of NFV is the lack of maturity in the operational automation capabilities of the OSS toolchain,” said Martin Taylor, CTO of Metaswitch. “Our integration with Cloudify simplifies and accelerates lifecycle management automation, giving carriers faster, error-free operational management of their cloud-based virtual network infrastructures.”

Saturday, February 24, 2018

KT tested 5G at PyeongChang 2018 Games with Intel

KT conducted a number of 5G tests at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

As an official partner of the Olympic Winter Games, KT installed optical fiber cables and the telecommunications infrastructure in 70 of the Olympics venues.

A limited 5G trial service was established in collaboration with Samsung and Intel.

The public was invited to view this at promotional areas in PyeongChang and in the KT 5G Pavilion in Olympic Park in Gangneung.

Because planning for the event started several years ago, KT developed a "PyeongChang 5G Specification".

KT is planning on launching a commercial 5G service in 2019 based in the 5G NR specifications, which were completed last December. Network building and optimization is planned for this year.

In a press release, Intel confirmed its collaboration with KT at the Winter Games. Intel said a total of 22 5G links were established at 10 sites.  The 5G connections were used for image capture viewpoints, IPTV, virtual reality, Wi-Fi and other telemetry.

The pilot demonstration showed multi-vendor interoperability. New services were shown to spectators and visitors in several Olympic venues and public areas.

Intel envisions 5G laptops with Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft

At Mobile World Congress, Intel is showcasing a 5G connected laptop that could be available commercially in the second half of 2019.

Intel is collaborating with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft on the design of Windows PCs featuring the Intel XMM 8000 series commercial 5G modems.

The current design is a detachable 2-in-1 laptop with an early 5G modem and powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor.

Intel outlines its 5G radio modem portfolio

Intel outlined its product roadmap for 5G silicon. First up is Intel XMM 8000 series, a family of 5G new radio (5G NR) multi-mode commercial modems, and the Intel XMM 7660 LTE modem.

Highlights of Intel’s wireless roadmap:

  • Intel XMM 8000 series: will operate in both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave global spectrum bands. Intel is aiming to enable a range of devices to connect to 5G, including PC, phones, fixed wireless consumer premise equipment (CPE) and vehicles.
  • Intel XMM 8060: will offer multi-mode support for the full 5G non-standalone and standalone NR, as well as various 2G, 3G (including CDMA) and 4G legacy modes. It is expected to ship in commercial customer devices in mid-2019. Intel is targetting broad deployment of 5G networks in 2020.
  • Intel XMM 7660: Intel’s latest LTE modem delivers Cat-19 capabilities, supports speeds up to 1.6 Gbps, and features advanced multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO), carrier aggregation and a broad range of band support. It will ship in commercial devices in 2019.

Intel also announced it has successfully completed a full end-to-end 5G call based on its early 5G silicon over the 28GHz band. Intel says it is participating in dozens of 5G trials around the world.

“Intel is committed to delivering leading 5G multi-mode modem technology and making sure the transition to 5G is smooth,” said Dr. Cormac Conroy, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Communication and Devices Group. “Our investments in a full portfolio of modem technologies and products are critical to achieving the vision of seamless 5G connectivity.”

Another idea for base stations in balloons

Just in time for Mobile World Congress 2018, Ericsson is introducing “a new tethered-aerial infrastructure product” – basically a base station in a balloon that is tethered to the ground – as a means of delivering mobile broadband in rural locations.

We like this idea! It sounds more reasonable than Google’s Project Loon (update below), which recently has been in service over Puerto Rico, or Facebook’s Aquila drone aircraft, whose current status and future prospects are murkier.

Ericsson’s tethered aerial infrastructure is also being called a “Super Tower”. Essentially, it is a multisector LTE base station placed at a height of 250m (800 feet), perhaps 6X higher than the typical towers you might see alongside a motorway. The base stations, of course, come from Ericsson’s portfolio. The balloon – or aerostat, as it is properly called) was developed by Altaeros Energies, a Boston-based startup with funding from SoftBank, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Suhail Bahwan Group, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and RNT Associates, wholly owned by Mr. Ratan N. Tata, former Chairman of Tata Sons. Altaeros founders come from M.I.T.

From the 250m height, the SuperTower base station can cover the equivalent territory of about 30 base stations. This will bring compelling economics in lightly-populated rural areas.

The helium-based aerostat can be inflated and deployed in 24 hours. The company says that the cost of helium is negligible in an overall operating budget. The floating up employs 3 tethers. If all three were to break, onboard valves would crack open and release helium, causing the balloon to slowly descend. The company says its balloons should be able to survive windstorms of up to 160 kph (100 mph).

It should be noted that Altaeros has also been working on a different version of its helium-filled aerostat that floats a wind turbine at the 250m height. Wind speeds at this elevation are typically stronger and more consistent than at ground level. Late last year, Altaeros deployed one of its SuperTowers in rural Maine, but there has been little reporting about the outcome of this pilot run.

Navigational hazard?

Of course, an LTE base station floating at a 250m height does present a navigational hazard to low-flying aircraft. In the U.S., the aerostats need FAA permission, but just like for skyscrapers, much permits are obtainable if due safety considerations are met.

In addition to providing rural broadband, the SuperTowers could also be used for temporarily delivering Internet access following natural disasters or for special events, such ay s outdoor concerts or festivals. The military reportedly is interested in using the aerostats rapidly deployable communication networks. Similar aerostats are already used for border protection and other surveillance applications.  Ericsson plans to offer the SuperTowers to mobile operators in late 2018.

Where are the Loons?

In contrast to Altaeros’s tethered SuperTowers, Google’s Loon balloons can be literally anywhere the wind takes them. The tetherless loons typically fly in the stratosphere at heights of about 18,000m (60,000) – above commercial air traffic.  X (formerly Google X), which is the subsidiary that Alphabet has established to turn this science project into a commercial business, attempts to steer the balloons by adjusting the altitude to catch prevailing winds. This is a difficult proposition for network planning even in good weather because to provide service to users on the ground it is essential that the floating base station not drift too far away.

The Altaeros SuperTower balloons are directly wired into the backhaul network in a predictable structure. The backhaul from a Loon balloon can travel to other Loon balloons first before eventually finding a downlink to a ground station. Like the Altaeros configuration, the Loons carry a lightweight LTE eNodeB enabling them to connect directly to the handsets of users below.

Google initially launched pilot trials of Loon balloons in the southern hemisphere in 2013 from launch sites in New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.

A real-world use case for the Loon balloons emerged after Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean in late September 2017 and devastated the communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two weeks following the disaster, the FCC granted a provisional license for X to launch its balloons in Puerto Rico in hopes of alleviating the dire situation – nearly 90 percent of the islands base stations remained out of service two weeks after the storm.

So how is Loon performing in Puerto Rico? At this point, we only have anecdotal evidence. X has only disclosed limited data on the program. We know, for example, that in the first week, X was launching the loon balloons from Nevada and guiding them all the way to Puerto Rico using its algorithms and machine learning. On November 9, a tweet from the team at X said the balloons were supplying basic Internet connectivity to 100,000 AT&T and T-Mobile users in Puerto Rico – good progress! We also learned that Nokia was supplying base stations for Project Loon. SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision provided ground station connectivity in Puerto Rico.

What is also interesting to see are user reports and balloon sightings shared on social media, especially when the balloons have drifted west to the neighboring island of Hispaniola.

The website Flightradar24.com even provides tracking maps, from which we surmise that connectivity at any one spot will vary with the wind.  A series of tether balloons could serve the same purpose and maybe at lower cost and greater reliability.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Nokia and T-Mobile hit 1.3 Gbps with Licensed Assisted Access

T-Mobile has hit download speeds of 1.3 Gbps using Nokia's commercial Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

The high-performance was achieving using 14-layer transmissions during tests conducted at T-Mobile's lab in Bellevue, Washington. The tests employed an Nokia AirScale Micro RRH connected to an AirScale system module. Speeds of 1.3 Gbps were achieved by aggregating LTE carriers in licensed and unlicensed bands using five-component carrier aggregation, 256QAM, 4x4 MIMO and LAA on 14 antenna layers.

Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile, said: "We are working to deploy small cells that support LAA and build on the LTE-Advanced features we've deployed across the country, laying a foundation for 5G. Our priority is ensuring customers have the best mobile experience, so we are accelerating LAA and five carrier aggregation to give them even higher speeds and greater network performance."

Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "Nokia is providing a path towards 5G that allows operators like T-Mobile to attain gigabit speeds with LTE by leveraging all available licensed and unlicensed spectrum. With LAA, we are helping T-Mobile gain higher download peak rates than could be achieved with licensed spectrum alone. This adds capacity beyond the spectrum licensed to this operator, and the existing network sites are used with limited TCO investment."

Rackspace extends partnership with Cisco to advanced security

Rackspace is extending its long-running partnership with Cisco to include advanced security solutions.

Rackspace, which was already one of Cisco's largest firewall customers,  continues to pilot Cisco’s advanced security solutions. Rackspace has deployed and served as a testing partner for Cisco’s stateful firewall, the ASA series, to the ASA 5500-X Series, to now the Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall for advanced threat protection.

Rackspace is deploying high volumes of Cisco’s Next-Generation Firewalls and integrating them directly into its services,  helping enable its customers to manage their hosted environments more efficiently and securely.

“As a company that is committed to enabling its customers on their digital transformation journeys, Rackspace is constantly evolving to solve customers’ IT challenges,” said David Neuman, Chief Information Security Officer, Rackspace. “The value of a partner that understands what a global market is looking for in different customer verticals is extremely important to us. We depend on partners like Cisco to help us understand not only what we’re doing today, but what’s on the horizon and we can collaborate to deliver next-generation capabilities.”