Wednesday, March 21, 2018

University College London carries 120 Terabit/s over a single repeatered fibre with Xtera

University College London (UCL), in collaboration with Xtera, has demonstrated the transmission of 120 Terabit/s over a single repeatered fibre.

The experiment used a hybrid distributed-Raman / EDFA amplifier with a bandwidth of 91 nm. This is an extension of the technology which Xtera currently deploys in its subsea repeaters, with 256QAM and adaptive FEC expertise coming from UCL and Z-PLUS Fiber 150 fibre from Sumitomo. These initial experiments were performed over 630 km with nine broadband amplifiers spaced at 70km.  In the near future, these will be connected to form a loop to allow tests over much longer distances.  The capacity and span achieved today exceeds the previous record of 115 Terabit/s over 100 km by more than six times.

Xtera said conventional approaches can yield bandwidths of approximately 70 nm when using the combination of a C-band and an L-band amplifier. Raman amplification used by Xtera can offer even greater bandwidth, in this case 91nm, while also offering very low noise. 

Dr. Stuart Barnes, Chairman of Xtera, in expressing how pleased he has been with the Xtera / UCL collaboration, states, “This is the start of an exciting period of work where Xtera and UCL will push the limits of this technology even further, a possibility which doesn’t exist for two discrete C+L amplifiers.  I am confident that more bandwidth is not only possible but also practical, and more importantly, commercially viable.  Xtera will continue to push transmission technology further in order to create products which meet the market demands of the future.”

Professor Polina Bayvel, CBE FRS FREng, adds, “I am happy that our state-of-the-art, high-speed WDM transmission testbed, developed through the EPSRC UNLOC programme, could be used to achieve record transmission throughput.  This accomplishment has been enabled by many ground-breaking research developments in digital signal processing and amplifier technology as well as dedicated effort of outstanding researchers from UCL’s Optical Networks Group and Xtera.”

Details of the experiment and findings are available at www.xtera.com/learning/ and www.arxiv.org

UK kicks off 5G spectrum auction

Ofcom, the official telecoms regulator in the U.K., has commenced an auction to release more airwaves to improve mobile broadband capacity, and help prepare for future 5G services.

A total of 190 MHz of spectrum is being sold across two frequency bands: 40 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band, which will be used to increase mobile broadband capacity for today’s users; and 150 MHz in 3.4GHz, which has been earmarked for 5G.

Five companies have been approved to bid in the auction: Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd; EE Limited; Hutchison 3G UK Limited; Telefonica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited.

The length of the auction depends on the level of bidding activity. There is a £70m reserve price, with the value increasing round by round as bids are made.

NTT Com plans 4th data center campus in Frankfurt

NTT Communications' e-shelter business unit has acquired a new development site in Frankfurt, which will be its 4th location in the city.

The “Frankfurt 4 Data Center” campus is located in Hattersheim in the west of the city and will feature 5 DC buildings built out in phases, with the first building of 9.7MW IT load scheduled to open in early 2019. Once fully built out, the site is capable of housing up to 60MW IT load and 24,000 sqm of IT space, supporting an average power density of 2.5 kW/sqm.

e-shelter, which offers both wholesale and retail colocation services, along with hybrid IT enterprise solutions, currently operates across ten locations in the DACH region and a data center area of around 90,000 sqm. Outside of DACH e-shelter is also expanding to new markets with a new data center campus opening in Amsterdam in early 2019 and development sites secured in both Madrid and London.

Dell EMC launches Virtual Edge Platform

Dell EMC introduced its enterprise Virtual Edge Platform (VEP) family for SD-WAN.

The Dell EMC VEP4600, which is powered by the new Intel Xeon D-2100 processor, is a universal Customer Premise Equipment (uCPE) meant to displace expensive fixed-function access hardware.

It provides an open Intel architecture-based platform to support multiple simultaneous virtual network functions (VNF). Numerous proprietary physical devices can be consolidated into this single uCPE while maintaining the high-performance levels needed to host many. The modular design includes room to grow with front panel expandability so the platform can be easily upgraded or serviced in the field as needed.

"There is a real need among service providers and enterprises to update network operations to address distributed and cloud-based applications and capitalize on changing economics enabled by cloud models," said Tom Burns, senior vice president, Networking & Service Provider Solutions. "By infusing Open Networking into access networks to the cloud with the Virtual Edge Platform family, Dell EMC can help customers modernize infrastructure and transform operations while automating service delivery and processes."

"As network traffic continues to increase, optimized service delivery is required to meet the demands of a broad range of use cases at the network edge," said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager, Network Platforms Group, Intel. "A programmable and power efficient system-on-a-chip processor is needed to deliver the performance that users and devices require for edge applications. Using the Intel Xeon D-2100 system-on-a-chip in the Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform provides flexible and power-efficient network edge solutions with high-performance compute and intelligence."

Intel intros Xeon D-2100 for edge

Intel introduced a system-on-chip processor in its Xeon line that is architected to address the needs of edge applications and other data center or network applications.

The new Intel Xeon D-2100 processors include up to 18 “Skylake-server” generation Intel Xeon processor cores and integrated Intel QuickAssist Technology with up to 100 Gbps of built-in cryptography, decryption and encryption acceleration.

Intel said this processor will be supported by system software updates to protect against the Spectre and Meltdown security exploits.

In addition to edge deployments in communications service provider networks, other use cases for the Intel Xeon D-2100 processor include:
  • Storage: The Intel Xeon D-2100 processor is an option for density-optimized, lightweight hyperscale cloud workloads such as dynamic web serving, memory caching, dedicated hosting and warm storage.
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): The processors can bring higher performance to content delivery at the network edge, which is critical to keep latency low for streaming media to viewers and those working in media fields with massive files.
  • Enterprise networks: The processor family also targets entry enterprise SAN and NAS storage, midrange routers, network appliances, security appliances, wireless base stations and embedded midrange IoT usages, among others.

Microsoft signs largest corporate solar deal in U.S. at 315 MW

In what is described as the single largest corporate purchase of solar energy ever in the United States, Microsoft agreed to purchase 315 MW of energy from Pleinmont I and II, two new solar projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Microsoft is aiming to power 60% of its operations with renewable energy by 2020.

"Today, we're signing the largest corporate solar agreement in the United States, a 315 megawatt project in Virginia that will move us ahead of schedule in creating a cleaner cloud," said Brad Smith, president, Microsoft. "This project means more than just gigawatts, because our commitment is broader than transforming our own operations; it's also about helping others access more renewable energy."

The project is owned and will be operated by sPower, a leading independent renewable energy power producer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Once operational, Pleinmont I and II will consist of more than 750,000 solar panels spread across more than 2,000 acres, and produce approximately 715,000 MWh a year. It is the largest solar project in Virginia and the fifth largest solar project in the country.

Averon raises $13.3 million for mobile identity

Averon, a start-up based in San Francisco, raised $13.3 million in series A funding for its work in mobile identity verification.

Averon's solution leverages mobile carrier data signaling and hardware already in every smartphone combined with Averon's proprietary blockchain technology to positively and instantly authenticate mobile users. The mobile authentication works seamlessly whether users are on Wi-Fi or LTE.
The company says its patented techniques are impervious to man-in-the-middle attacks, social engineering and other forms of digital hijacking.

The funding round was led by Avalon Ventures and Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff.

"Averon provides the fastest, strongest mobile security in the world, and we're proud that our innovations are disrupting the status quo of cybersecurity," said Wendell Brown, Averon co-founder and CEO. "We completely relieve the burden from end users while providing enterprise customers far superior security. Our solutions heal the cyber battle wounds suffered by every sector, from banking and healthcare to e-commerce. Our customers enjoy freedom and peace of mind, because users' logins, purchases and entire digital life are always effortlessly protected while connected with Averon."

http://www.averon.com

CenturyLink overtakes AT&T on Vertical Systems Group Leaderboard

CenturyLink (including Level 3), AT&T, Verizon (including XO), Windstream and Frontier have gained a position on the 2017 U.S. Incumbent Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD, according to Vertical Systems Group’s latest research.

The Incumbent Carrier LEADERBOARD, which ranks incumbents in order based on U.S. retail Ethernet port share for this segment, is an industry benchmark for measuring Ethernet market presence.

CenturyLink jumps to the first position on the 2017 Incumbent Carrier LEADERBOARD based on Ethernet ports from its Level 3 merger, up from the third position in the previous year. As a result, AT&T moves into the second position from first, where it had been perennially ranked in the incumbent segment. Verizon (including ports from its acquisition of XO) is in the third position, followed by Windstream at the fourth position. Frontier gains the fifth position for its initial entry to the Incumbent Carrier benchmark ranking.

Other companies in the Incumbent Carrier segment selling retail Ethernet services in the U.S. market include the following (in alphabetical order): Alaska Communications, Cincinnati Bell, Hawaiian Telecom, TDS Telecom and other incumbents.

To qualify for the 2017 U.S. Incumbent Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD, companies must achieve either a top rank or a Challenge Tier citation on the 2017 U.S. Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD. Incumbent Carrier is one of three U.S. provider segments, along with the Competitive Provider and Cable MSO segments.

ETSI and OPNFV announce co-located testing

ETSI and OPNFV announced plans to co-locate their next community testing events in Sophia Antipolis, France.

The third ETSI NFV PlugtestsTM event will be held between 29 May and 8 June 2018, and the OPNFV Fraser Plugfest will be held from 4 to 8 June.

“Effective interoperability is the goal of any standards activity, and ETSI NFV adopted an approach oriented towards actually exercising and demonstrating interoperability from its start in 2012, evolving from Proofs of Concepts to Plugtests activities,” says Diego Lopez, chairman of ETSI ISG NFV. “This event is a new opportunity to strengthen the current cooperation with relevant open-source communities in the NFV landscape.”

ZTE touts cloud native container platform for NFV

ZTE announced an end-to-end container networking solution for open-source NFV .

ZTE’s unified ICT PaaS platform, TECS OpenPalette, is based on container and Kubernetes cluster management technologies.

The company said that in order to address telecom application requirements such as high concurrency, large throughput, and multiple network planes, its platform employs the Knitter container networking solution.

In addition to supporting the native Kubernetes network, it offers multiple network planes, static application IP addressing, IP address migration, configurable IP resources, and high-performance forwarding.

Samsung posts specs on its 10nm Exynos 7 Series 9610

Samsung Electronics Co. posted key specifications on its latest application processor (AP), the Exynos 7 Series 9610, for high-end smartphones.

The Exynos 9610 is built on Samsung’s 10-nanometer (nm) FinFET process. The CPU is comprised of four Cortex-A73 cores running at 2.3 gigahertz (GHz), and four 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores to load apps quickly and run multiple tasks simultaneously.

The GPU is a second-generation Bifrost-based ARM Mali-G72.

There is an embedded Cortex-M4F-based low-power sensor hub, which efficiently manages the sensors in real-time without waking the main processor.

The embedded all-network LTE modem supports Cat.12 3CA (carrier aggregation) at 600 Mbps for downlink and Cat.13 2CA at 150Mbps for uplink.

The processor also features 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi, faster and longer range Bluetooth 5.0, and FM for radio. In addition, for global location positioning coverage, it embeds a 4-mode Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver that includes GPS (Global Positioning System), GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo.

The Exynos 7 Series 9610 is expected to be mass produced in the second half of this year.

Seagate shows 14TB helium-based Exos HDD

Seagate Technology introduced its 14TB helium-based Exos X14 enterprise drive at the OCP U.S. Summit 2018 in San Jose, California.

The Seagate Exos X14, which is aimed at hyperscale data centers, boasts enhanced areal density for higher capacity storage in a smaller package. It offers built-in encryption with the United States government’s Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, Level 2 certification and the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation (CC) - an international computer security certification standard (ISO/EIC 15408). Other key features include 40 percent more petabytes per rack versus Exos 10TB drives, a 10 percent weight reduction versus air nearline drives, and a flexible design that delivers wider integration options and support for a greater number of workloads.

The drive is currently sampling to select customers and will be followed by production availability this summer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Edgecore announces first 400G Open Network Switch

Edgecore Networks announced a 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400G) data center switch for public or private data center operators.

Edgecore's 400G, AS9716-32X open design switch, which will be contributed to the Open Compute Project (OCP), provides 32 x QSFP-DD ports each capable of 400G operation, in a 1U form factor. The AS9716-32X switch is based on the Broadcom StrataXGS Tomahawk III Switch Series and incorporates an Intel Xeon Processor D control plane processor.

As with all Edgecore open network switches, the 400G switch supports OCP software standards, including ONIE, Open Network Linux, the Open Optical Monitoring (OOM) API, and the Redfish hardware management API. Edgecore will work with commercial software partners and open software communities to enable commercial and open source Network Operating System (NOS) options for the 400G switch.

“Four years ago, Edgecore contributed the industry’s first OCP-ACCEPTED™ network product, a 10G top-of-rack switch,” said George Tchaparian, CEO, Edgecore Networks. “Since then, we have contributed over 15 network product designs as open networking technology and deployments grew to include 25G/100G data center fabrics, deep-buffer data center interconnect switches, service provider access infrastructures, open modular chassis, and campus/branch/wireless networks. Now, Edgecore is introducing the industry’s first 400G open network switch, enabling network operators to respond to growing demands for network capacity, and increasing the bandwidth of open network switches by a factor of 40 over the past four years.”

FogHorn partners with Google Cloud for Industrial IoT

FogHorn Systems, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, announced a collaboration with Google Cloud IoT Core to simplify the deployment and maximize the business impact of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

FogHorn has built a complex event processing (CEP) - driven edge analytics software for on-premises edge computing. The software has a very small footprint enabling it to deliver real-time analytics to resource-constrained edge devices such as PLCs, gateways and industrial PCs. FogHorn recently enhanced its CEP platform with a new "Lightning ML" edge machine learning solution that can be used to train and execute machine learning algorithms and other advanced data science models on streaming sensor data. FogHorn says this facilitates the creation and iterative enhancement of “digital twins” and other sophisticated machine learning and AI models without the need to send all the sensor data to a cloud or data center for processing.

Under the partnership with Google, FogHorn’s edge analytics and machine learning platform will be integrated with Google Cloud IoT Core, which is a fully managed service that for connecting, managing, and ingesting data from globally dispersed devices.

“Cloud IoT Core simply and securely brings the power of Google Cloud’s world-class data infrastructure capabilities to the IIoT market,” said Antony Passemard, Head of IoT Product Management at Google Cloud. “By combining industry-leading edge intelligence from FogHorn, we’ve created a fully-integrated edge and cloud solution that maximizes the insights gained from every IoT device. We think it’s a very powerful combination at exactly the right time.”

"Our integration with Google Cloud harmonizes the workload and creates new efficiencies from the edge to the cloud across a range of dimensions,” said David King, CEO at FogHorn. “This approach simplifies the rollout of innovative, outcome-based IIoT initiatives to improve organizations’ competitive edge globally, and we are thrilled to bring this collaboration to market with Google Cloud.”

 FogHorn raises $30M for industrial IoT edge computing
FogHorn Systems, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, announced $30 million in Series B funding for its software stack designed for the industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing segment.

FogHorn has built a complex event processing (CEP) - driven edge analytics software for on-premises edge computing. The software has a very small footprint enabling it to deliver real-time analytics to resource-constrained edge devices such as PLCs, gateways and industrial PCs. FogHorn recently enhanced its CEP platform with a new "Lightning ML" edge machine learning solution that can be used to train and execute machine learning algorithms and other advanced data science models on streaming sensor data. FogHorn says this facilitates the creation and iterative enhancement of “digital twins” and other sophisticated machine learning and AI models without the need to send all the sensor data to a cloud or data center for processing.

FogHorn's “edge intelligence” software targets industrial and commercial IoT application, such as complex machinery packed with sensors. For performance and cost reasons, FogHorn argues data from industrial equipment mostly should be processed locally and not sent to a distant cloud. On-premises computing provides better latency for near real-time feedback. It can also minimize the volume of data to be uploaded to the cloud. FogHorn's software is being used by OEMs and systems integrators. The company is also working directly with end customers in manufacturing, oil and gas, power and water, transportation, renewable energy, mining and agriculture, as well as Smart Building, Smart City and connected vehicle applications.

The new funding round was led by Intel Capital and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures with new investor Honeywell Ventures and all previous investors participating, including Series A investors March Capital Partners, GE Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Yokogawa Electric Corporation, Darling Ventures and seed investor The Hive. The company has raised $47.5 million to date.

DustPhotonics leverages manufacturing innovation for 400G QSFP-DD transceivers

DustPhotonics, a start-up based in Modi'in, Israel with offices in Cupertino, California, emerged from stealth to discuss its development of a next-generation packaging technology that simplifies the manufacturing of high-performance optical transceiver. The company said its innovations will increase the manufacturing yield of optical transceivers.

DustPhotonics is currently ramping production of 400Gbps QSFPDD-­‐SR8 and OSFP-­‐SR8 modules.
"We are only at the beginning of ever increasing demand for high speed optical interconnect," said Ben Rubovitch, CEO. "DustPhotonics is pleased to support the world-­‐wide optical design initiative through our commitment to manufacturing open and innovative optical networking products that enable a dynamic, reliable, bandwidth-rich datacenter."

Cavium and HPE target OCP NIC 3.0

Cavium and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) are collaborating to bring hyperscale-inspired designs based on Open Compute Project into mainstream enterprise IT.

HPE will offer Cavium FastLinQ 41000 Series 10/25GbE NICs in OCP 2.0 form factor for the HPE Cloudline Servers.

The companies are also collaboration on the emerging OCP NIC 3.0 standard, which proposes to further enhance server networking I/O options with expanded provisions for thermal footprints, PCIe Gen 4 and SmartNICs while reducing overall downtime by simplifying NIC installation and removal.

“Cavium has a decade-old relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and provides differentiated I/O technology for HPE servers, storage and networking,” said Rajneesh Gaur, Vice President and General Manager of Ethernet Adapter Group, Cavium. “As technology pioneers and innovators of open standards, I am proud to announce that Cavium and HPE are aligning their strategy and investments to enable Enterprise and Cloud IT to leverage the economics of scale by driving the OCP NIC 3.0 standard.”

“HPE is committed to decreasing data center TCO while improving performance and availability by enabling an Open Infrastructure,” said Kara Long, Vice President and General Manager for Cloudline Portfolio at HPE. “With the introduction of Cavium FastLinQ OCP 2.0 NICs in Cloudline servers and collaboration with Cavium on the OCP NIC 3.0 standard development, joint customers will have the ability to transform their infrastructure for modern workloads and cloud initiatives while optimizing infrastructure costs.”

Siemens AG picks Orange Business Services for Global SD-WAN

Siemens AG has awarded a six-year contract to Orange Business Services for a global “Siemens Digitalization Network” (SDN) connecting 1,500 sites in 94 countries.

Under the new six-year contract, which was valued at 240 million Euros, Orange Business Services will migrate Siemens’ entire global infrastructure to a dynamic and flexible SD-WAN network which will connect cloud applications as well as IoT devices.

“As a globally operating company with subsidiaries and divisions all over the world, we need a reliable and flexible communication network that is a critical business enabler and can evolve with our growing business,” said Frederik Janssen, Head of Siemens IT Infrastructure Portfolio and Strategy. “We chose Orange Business Services because we see it as a prime partner with the ability to deliver seamless worldwide SD-WAN coverage with the highest degree of security standards – especially to protect against threats from the Internet, quality of service, local support and an attractive price-performance ratio. We were also impressed by the flexibility and the service level Orange Business Services has been providing as a trusted partner to Siemens over the past several years.”

Brazil's Eletronet picks Telia Carrier IP Transit

Eletronet, a national service provider in Brazil with more than 155 Points of Presence (PoPs) and 16,000 km of fiber capacity across the country, has selected Telia Carrier’s global fiber backbone to provide dedicated Internet access to its customers.

Electronet provides wavelength and Ethernet services to Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The partnership will also give Eletronet access to Telia Carrier’s Global Network, thus enabling it to offer new options to the Brazilian market in terms of nationwide internet connectivity.

“By choosing Telia Carrier as a partner in launching a Tier-1 Internet service, Eletronet can offer a new internet option to the Brazilian market. Both carriers own their fiber networks, which secures the stability and redundancy that will allow Eletronet's customers to enjoy an excellent
experience,” said Edison De Leon, regional director of Latin America and the Caribbean for Telia Carrier. “Providing tier-1 access to Eletronet’s backbone via a direct connection will assure a single ‘hop’ to content and apps, an advantage that will differentiate ELETRONET in the Brazilian market.”

Netronome intros 25/50GbE SmartNICs based on the OCP v2.0 mezzanine spec

Netronome unveiled its Agilio CX 25 and 50Gb/s SmartNICs featuring support for the OCP v2.0 mezzanine specification.

The Agilio CX SmartNIC platform fully and transparently offloads virtual switch, router, P4 and eBPF-based datapath processing for networking functions such as overlays, security, load balancing and telemetry, enabling cloud and SDN-enabled compute and storage servers to free up critical server CPU cores for application processing while delivering significantly higher performance.

Netronome said its new Agilio SmartNICs are deployable in multiple OCP server and storage platforms, and pack 60 processing cores within stringent OCP v2.0 form factor and power profiles to deliver nine times higher kernel datapath processing capabilities per server to enhance security and data access efficiencies.

The Agilio CX 25/50GbE SmartNICs utilize open sourced, Linux-based, upstreamed drivers and compilers to enable seamless offload of Enhanced Berkeley Packet Filter/Express Data Processing (eBPF/XDP) applications.

“OCP designs are known to deliver size and cost-effective scale and performance. SoC silicon used in SmartNICs has typically involved much larger size, cost and power profiles while delivering lower performance,” said Sujal Das, chief marketing and strategy officer at Netronome. “Netronome unique SoC technology with open-source programming available in Agilio CX 25/50GbE SmartNICs enables the industry to realize the confluence of the value of OCP designs with the much sought-after capabilities of SmartNICs.”

Agilio CX 25GbE SmartNICs for OCP are sampling today, and Agilio CX 50GbE SmartNICs for OCP will sample in Q3 2018.

https://www.netronome.com/products/agilio-cx/

ADTRAN and Sumitomo Electric enter EPON agreement

ADTRAN will assume sales, customer relationship, distribution, support, manufacturing and development rights for Sumitomo Electric's EPON solutions for its target markets outside of Japan and Asia.

The companies said ADTRAN will leverage Sumitomo Electric’s dominant North American EPON market share and deep industry experience in engineering, support and sales functions. These EPON solutions will be integrated into ADTRAN’s SD-Access portfolio to further support ADTRAN’s ongoing commitment to serve the needs of its growing base of cable MSO customers.

The technology license and OEM supply agreement covers for North America, South America, EMEA, Australia and New Zealand.

“Sumitomo Electric EPON products have been the market leader over the past twelve years in Japan, the last four years in North America and are a strong fit for ADTRAN to integrate into our industry-leading SD-Access portfolio,” said Jay Wilson, Senior Vice President of Technology and Strategy, ADTRAN. “These products come to ADTRAN with large, installed deployments within leading MSOs, including the top two North American cable broadband providers. We will build upon Sumitomo Electric solutions to further accelerate the MSO market’s adoption of our open, programmable and scalable architectures, enabling them to accomplish their strategic network priorities.”

“Our global alliance ensures that cable MSOs and internet service providers around the globe are supported with the industry’s most open and complete 10G-EPON, NG-PON2 and Gfast with SD-Access solutions and with the company best positioned to advance their networks and accommodate next-generation services,” said Hiroaki Nishimoto, General Manager, Broad Networks Division, Sumitomo Electric. “ADTRAN is the right partner for Sumitomo Electric, because of its long-term trust from Tier-1 Telco and MSO customers in North America, and also because of its leadership in a complementary product portfolio and its unique experience with deploying and maintaining remote electronics. We look forward to the collaboration between our teams that will result in more competitive solutions for our customers.”

Telefónica's Telxius infrastructure arm expands its global reach

Telxius, Telefónica's infrastructure arm, was established in February 2016. It owns and operates a portfolio comprising nearly 16,300 telecom towers in five countries and manages an international network with around 65,000 km of submarine optical cable, including around 31,000 km owned by Telxius. The Telxius-owned network includes SAM-1 linking the U.S., Central and South America, PCCS (Pacific Caribbean Cable System) and Unisur, which connects Uruguay and Argentina. It also took over Telefónica's share in older subsea consortium cables, including Columbus III, Atlantis II, and FLAG.

Telxius has two new subsea cables that are expected to enter commercial service shortly: BRUSA, linking Brazil, Puerto Rico and the U.S., and MAREA linking the U.S. and Europe in partnership with Google and Facebook. The two projects bring enormous East-West and North-South capacity to the Atlantic. More about these projects below.

It was just over a year ago that Telefónica announced it has reached an agreement with global investment firm KKR Group for the sale of up to a 40% stake of Telxius Telecom, its global telecommunications infrastructure company, for a total of Euro 1,275 million, or Euro 12.75 per share. The deal with KKR implied an enterprise value of Euro 3,678 million for Telxius, or 11.4 times its 2017 EBITDA.

Telefónica's original plan was to seek a public listing for Telxius as an independent company. An attempted initial public offering was announced in September 2016 but subsequently withdrawn in November.

In terms of valuation, the deal with KKR was fairly close to the earlier aspirations for a public listing. KKR is a private equity firm specializing in infrastructure opportunities. As of the end of 2017, KKR had $168 billion of assets under its management.

From what we gather, the Telxius shared infrastructure business is doing well.



The Massive MAREA project

Construction of the highest-capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic was officially completed in September 2017. The 6,600 km MAREA subsea cable, which was jointly funded by Microsoft and Facebook, links Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain. For these two Internet giants, the collaboration represents a significant change for the subsea cable industry, which previously funded major projects by establishing a consortium of telecom carriers, with bandwidth on the system subsequently divided between eight, ten or even more investing parties. MAREA is not only massive in comparison to the projects from just a decade ago, it also follows a more southerly transatlantic route, landing in Europe on the Iberian peninsula. For the American landing, the cable arrives hundreds of miles to the southern coast of Virginia, in proximity to new hyperscale data centre campuses being built by Microsoft and Facebook.


It is also very interesting that the MAREA cable will be managed by Telxius, providing Telefónica’s new infrastructure company with two very reliable customers whose bandwidth needs are certain to skyrocket in coming years. Telefónica’s European fibre backbone will certainly be an option if either of these Internet giants needs their traffic to be carried onward to other European destinations.

The MAREA cable features eight fibre pairs and an initial, estimated design capacity of 160 Tbps. TE SubCom served as the system supply partner for MAREA.

The BRUSA subsea system

BRUSA is Telxius’ new submarine cable linking Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza (Brazil) with San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Virginia Beach (USA). The 11,000-km cable consists of 8 fibre pairs, with 135 x 100 Gbps per fibre pair, with 4 direct fiber pairs connecting US-Brazil, and 4 fibre pairs entering Puerto Rico and Fortaleza. Alcatel Submarine Networks is the lead supplier. The system is expected to begin operations in the coming weeks.

The SAM-1 subsea system

Telxius also owns and operates the 25,000 km SAM-1 subsea cable connecting the U.S. with Central and South America. It started operations in 2000, connecting the United States, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Guatemala, and was extended to reach Ecuador and Colombia in 2007. Infinera’s equipment is deployed in this system, enabling on-demand service capabilities in some locations Infinera solutions are also installed on the terrestrial backhaul routes associated with the cable.

Expanding its tower business

The portfolio of 16,300 cellular towers, most of which were transferred from Telefónica, are largely concentrated in Spain (10,741 towers), where the company of course has its historical roots. Germany is its second largest installed base with 2,350 telecom masts, followed by Brazil (1,665 towers), Peru (849 towers), Chile (327 towers), and Argentina (304 towers).
Considering the business possibilities for in the Telxius portfolio, it is clear that the plan must be to add new mobile operator tenants in as many properties as possible. In addition to conventional mobile operators, a new class of Internet of Things operators is emerging.

One company leading in this sector is Sigfox, a French company founded in 2009 that builds wireless networks to connect low-power objects such as electricity meters, industrial sensors, etc. Sigfox uses a unique technology for extreme energy efficiency in the remote sensor and which remains compatible with Bluetooth, GPS 2G/3G/4G, and WiFi. Over the years, Sigfox has expanded its network to over 45 countries. It now claims to serve around 803 million people, with the ambition of extending the network across 60 countries and regions and reaching 1 billion people in 2018.

At Mobile World Congress, Telxius and Sigfox announced a deal to expand the Sigfox network in Germany to cover more than 80 percent of the country. This entails the deployment of Sigfox equipment on a number of the 2,350 telecom towers that Telxius acquired from Telefónica Germany in early 2016. In addition, Sigfox can utilize further selected antenna locations of Telefónica Germany for further expansion of its network. To reach complete network coverage across Germany requires only about 2,500 Sigfox base stations.

Previously, Sigfox Germany has acquired masts and roofs for its base stations directly. Working with Telxius, enables Sigfox to accelerate the rollout of its network as it will no longer have to negotiate directly with property owners.

If the Sigfox partnership in Germany is successful, Telxius certainly offers telecom masts in all of its other market for supporting a global IoT network.