Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Megaport's SDN now extends to Google Cloud's global network

Megaport has added support for Google Cloud's Partner Interconnect, a service from Google Cloud that allows customers to privately connect to Google Cloud Platform.

Google Cloud's Partner Interconnect is a new product in the Google Cloud Interconnect family. Last September, Google announced Dedicated Interconnect, which provides higher-speed and lower-cost connectivity than VPN, and has become the go-to solution to connect on-premises data centres with the cloud.

Megaport said it is now providing connectivity to the nearest Google edge Point of Presence at a variety of sub-rate interface speeds varying from 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps.

"Partner Interconnect gives Google Cloud customers even more connectivity choices for hybrid environments," said, John Veizades, Product Manager, Google Cloud. "Together with Megaport, we are making it easier for customers to extend their on-prem infrastructure to the Google Cloud Platform."

"Scalable connectivity to Google Cloud Platform ensures that cloud-enabled applications perform to meet mission-critical business requirements," said Vincent English, CEO of Megaport. "Google Cloud brings tremendous value to the Megaport Ecosystem and empowers our customers to address a wide variety of business needs. We have been working with Google Cloud since our inception and we are excited to grow and evolve our integration to ensure the next generation of business growth."

Verizon cites positive momentum and higher earnings

Verizon added 260,000 net retail postpaid connections in Q1 2018, including 220,000 postpaid smartphone nets, along with 66,000 new Fios Internet connections, giving the company positive momentum as it entered the year. Verizon said it is on track to launch a 5G residential broadband service this year.

For first-quarter 2018, Verizon reported EPS of $1.11, compared with 84 cents in first-quarter 2017. On an adjusted basis (non-GAAP), first-quarter 2018 EPS was $1.17, compared with 95 cents in first-quarter 2017. Verizon’s first-quarter 2018 EPS included approximately 21 cents due to tax reform and accounting changes for revenue recognition.

“We began 2018 with strong momentum, and we expect it to continue throughout the year,” said Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. “We are positioning Verizon for long-term growth while executing our strategy today and leading the way for the next cycle of growth for the industry.”

Some highlights

Wireless results

  • Total revenues, excluding the impact of the revenue recognition standard, were $21.9 billion in first-quarter 2018, an increase of 4.7 percent compared with first-quarter 2017.
  • Service revenues for the quarter on a reported basis were down 2.4 percent. Excluding the impact from the revenue recognition standard, service revenues were flat. Service revenues improved year over year throughout the quarter, with results turning positive in the month of March when excluding the impact from the revenue recognition standard.
  • Verizon now has 81 percent of its postpaid phone base on unsubsidized plans, compared with 72 percent for the same period last year.
  • Verizon reported a net increase of 260,000 retail postpaid connections in first-quarter 2018, consisting of net phone losses of 24,000 and tablet losses of 75,000, offset by 359,000 other connected devices gains, primarily wearables. Postpaid smartphone net additions for the quarter were 220,000.
  • Total retail postpaid churn was 1.04 percent in first-quarter 2018, a year-over-year improvement. Retail postpaid phone churn of 0.80 percent was the fourth consecutive quarter of retail postpaid phone churn of 0.80 percent or better.


Wireline results

  • Total wireline revenues, excluding the impact of the revenue recognition standard, decreased 1.8 percent year over year in first-quarter 2018. Total Fios revenues, excluding the impact of the revenue recognition standard, grew 1.9 percent year over year, driven by growing demand for high-quality broadband service.
  • In first-quarter 2018, Verizon added a net of 66,000 Fios Internet connections and lost 22,000 Fios Video connections, indicative of the continued cord-cutting trend regarding traditional linear video bundles.


Nokia and NTT DOCOMO test 5G using 90 GHz

Nokia and NTT DOCOMO will undertake a joint study and trials on 5G using 90 GHz frequencies.

Nokia Bell Labs has already tested a first phased-array RF chip solution for the 90 GHz band to increase radio coverage in higher frequency bands and deliver multi-gigabit speeds at scale.

At this week's Brooklyn 5G Summit, Nokia, supported by NTT DOCOMO, will show two technology innovations being developed to address these demands:


  • The companies will apply a Nokia Bell Labs-developed compact mmWave phased-array antenna system scalable up to 256-elements using an integrated circuit (RFIC) solution in the 90 GHz frequency band to enable multi-gigabit per second speeds. The test will demonstrate how using 5G New Radio (5G NR) enhancements at higher mmWave frequency bands can manage radio complexity and a larger number of antenna beams, while enabling greater bandwidth. It will also show how using a larger number of antenna elements at higher frequency bands can minimize path loss to enable coverage similar to that found using lower mmWave bands.
  • A joint demonstration will also show how dynamic offloading relocation in a 5G core will enable the low-latency networks required to support time critical mobile broadband applications for future automation and augmented reality.

Marcus Weldon, President of Nokia Bell Labs, said: "At Bell Labs, we work with leading operators such as NTT DOCOMO to develop disruptive technologies that will redefine human existence. At the Brooklyn 5G Summit, we will show the world's first RF solution that addresses the challenge of delivering optimized coverage for future mmWave frequencies, using a pioneering RFIC design that can be scaled to any array dimension and deliver optimized connectivity to any set of devices."

Orange deploys Cisco NCS 5500 for its Open Transit Internet backbone

Orange is using the Cisco Network Convergence System (NCS 5500) to modernize and expand the Orange Open Transit Internet (OTI) service, which is a Tier 1 international Internet connectivity service offering direct access to the Internet networks in more than 100 countries through more than 50 points of presence (POPs). Orange's OTI targets both Internet service providers and content providers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The companies said this initiative expands Orange's OTI network in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, with reduced operational complexity and increased capacity using the new generation of routers on its OTI service.

“Our work with Cisco on OTI supports the further evolution of our network, allowing us to cope with huge traffic growth and improving the reach of our network,” said Jean-Luc Vuillemin, senior vice president, Orange International Networks Infrastructures and Services.


Cisco adds to its Service Provider routing portfolio

Cisco announced the addition of hardware, software and security options to its Service Provider routing portfolio. Highlights include:

Routing hardware 

Cisco NCS 500 Series: addressing converged wireline and wireless 5G-ready requirements for mobile x-haul and future evolutions of Carrier Ethernet networks, and various bandwidth needs ranging from 1 to 100 Gbps interfaces in small form factors.

Cisco ASR 9901: it supports applications such as distributed provider edge, Internet peering, metro aggregation and broadband network gateway (BNG) in a space-optimized platform; It delivers 456 Gbps of port capacity while also providing flexibility in terms of port speeds ranging from 1 to 100 Gbps with industry-leading MACsec encryption support across all ports.

Cisco NCS 5500 Series:

  • Two fixed chassis supporting 24 and 36 100GE ports 
  • A 36 100GE ports line card targeted at high-density core, mobile backhaul and data center interconnect use cases; Offers flexible port configuration supporting 10G/25G/40G and 100G per port with enhanced scale capabilities (external TCAM) 
  • A compact 2RU router targeted at high-density metro aggregation, mobile backhaul networks and long-haul connectivity use cases; Delivers maximum flexibility with the support of Modular Port Adapters (MPA) with options of different port types and MACsec encryption support.

Routing software additions

Segment Routing: Offers service providers more control over Internet traffic by delivering a unified transport fabric across aggregation, edge, core and data center network domains with unmatched simplicity, resiliency and scalability; With Segment Routing Flexible Algorithm, a new addition to the Cisco Segment Routing Traffic Engineering toolkit, service providers can:

  • Optimize the same physical network infrastructure along various dimensions such as low-latency, bandwidth or path disjointness. 
  • Custom fit 5G network slices to specific applications

Ethernet VPN (EVPN): Cisco is now offering seamless integration with Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS), helping service providers speed up migration from VPLS to EVPN as another method to provide Ethernet-based multipoint to multipoint communication over IP or MPLS networks; EVPN offers improved scalability, optimal forwarding and helps prevent traffic floods.

"Cisco continues to drive innovation in service provider routing to help our customers uplevel their architectures and be one step ahead in managing their network traffic demands,” said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Networking, Cisco.

ZenFi Networks and Cross River Fiber to merge

ZenFi Networks, which operates a high fiber count network across all five boroughs of the City of New York, will merge with Cross River Fiber, which operates high-capacity and latency-sensitive fiber optic backbone spans throughout New Jersey and New York. The deal will create a leading communications infrastructure provider in the New York and New Jersey metro areas with more than 700 route miles of fiber optic network, 130 on-net buildings, 49 colocation facilities and 1,700 outdoor wireless locations with more than 3,000 under contract.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

“The merger of ZenFi Networks and Cross River Fiber allows us to scale our communications infrastructure portfolio across the region, providing a robust fiber and colocation platform enabling the deployment of a wide range of digital services by mobile network operators, telecommunications service providers and large enterprises,” says Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Networks. “The combination enhances our network reach, deepens our product portfolio, and delivers a next generation network infrastructure that is the foundation of tomorrow’s communications networks. In addition, our partnership with Ridgemont Equity Partners further strengthens ZenFi Network’s financial position by providing access to additional capital to continue to deliver on our vision of building the most pervasive and high capacity connectivity platform in the region.

“While both companies have achieved great success to date, as a combined business, our geographic footprint and product capabilities are greatly expanded,” says Vincenzo Clemente, CEO of Cross River Fiber. “We can now offer custom telecommunications solutions in New York, New Jersey and beyond to more wireless mobility, carrier and enterprise customers than ever before. Our teams are cut from the same cloth – we’re both builders and owners of purpose-built fiber optic networks and wireless infrastructure – and together we will provide that cutting-edge network architecture of both fiber and wireless services to an even bigger customer base.”


ACG: Network automation investments on the rise

Network automation investments are expected to grow by approximately 30 percent between now and 2021, according to an independent research report by ACG Research and sponsored by Ciena. The study, which surveyed 208 decision-makers from 200 different service providers and large enterprises across the globe, found that 75 percent of respondents expect to achieve full or significant network automation in the next five years.

“We all realize that network automation is happening, but we really wanted to delve deeper into service provider and large enterprise experiences, expectations and challenges with automation. One of the key survey findings that stood out to me was the need for trained, skilled personnel in the area of programmable networks and automation. Operators expect their vendor partners to be able to help them with not only products and services but also with bridging the skills gap between telecom and IT as they execute their automation journey,” stated Tim Doiron, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research.

Other Key Findings:

  • The top motivations cited for increasing automation include: faster service delivery, improved customer satisfaction, the ability to support more complex and innovative services, and increased business agility.
  • Respondents stated that the top concerns and gaps they must address to ensure the success of their network transformations are: security, intelligence/analytics, and a skilled workforce that not only understands traditional telecom networks but new IT and software innovations, as well.
  • All regions ranked analytics and security as top requirements when asked what elements are needed to increase automation, but there were some differences of opinion on other requirements. For example, 68 percent of operators in Central and Latin America named the ability to access network performance data as one of the top 3 important elements while 55 percent of respondents in the European region and 40 percent of respondents in the Asia-Pacific region pointed to open, programmable infrastructure as being in the top 3.
  • Overall, 60 percent of respondents across the globe indicate openness and interoperability as being “very important” for their automation solution and 82 percent plan to use open source software from vendors or a mix of sources.
  • When asked what superhero they want their future network to be associated with, respondents’ top three answers were: The Hulk, Spider-Man, and Black Widow. When asked why, the top responses included Strength, Speed and Intelligence.


“A new theme has started to emerge in our conversations with customers around the globe. Automation, programmability, and intelligence have become critical keystones of future networks. With the pace of growth in capacity, devices, and mobility moving exceedingly fast, adaptive networks, which combine these attributes, will allow organizations to not only survive, but thrive in the face of increasing complexity and unpredictable growth to support the services and applications of tomorrow,” stated – Joe Cumello, Vice President, Head of Global Marketing, Ciena.

Coriant achieves EcoVadis Gold for the 2nd consecutive year

Coriant has been awarded Gold level recognition in sustainability performance in a survey conducted by EcoVadis, an independent rating agency specialized in the evaluation of supply chain sustainability. This is the second consecutive year that Coriant has received a Gold Rating, placing it among the top 5% of all companies for sustainability performance and excellence.

"The consecutive Gold Award from EcoVadis reflects Coriant’s long-term commitment to conducting its business in an ethically, socially, and environmentally responsible manner,” said Homayoun Razavi, Chief Customer Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Sales & Digital Marketing, Coriant. “Our dedication to CSR drives continual improvement throughout our business and ensures that the value we offer our customers encompasses not only best-in-class technology and multi-sided solution innovation, but also the highest level of sustainability, which is critical today, and for future generations."

Monday, April 23, 2018

MIT: a new technique for assembling on-chip optics and electronics separately

A team of researchers led by groups at MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and Boston University, have developed a technique for assembling on-chip optics and electronics separately using existing manufacturing processes.

The work, which is described in an article in the latest issue of Nature, allows the addition of optical communication components onto chips with modern transistors.

“The most promising thing about this work is that you can optimize your photonics independently from your electronics,” says Amir Atabaki, a research scientist at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and one of three first authors on the new paper. “We have different silicon electronic technologies, and if we can just add photonics to them, it’d be a great capability for future communications and computing chips. For example, now we could imagine a microprocessor manufacturer or a GPU manufacturer like Intel or Nvidia saying, ‘This is very nice. We can now have photonic input and output for our microprocessor or GPU.’ And they don’t have to change much in their process to get the performance boost of on-chip optics.”

http://news.mit.edu/2018/integrating-optical-components-existing-chip-designs-0419

NTT develops new QoE technique in video streaming

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) has demonstrated a video quality control technology based on Quality of Experience (QoE) in video streaming over mobile networks.

The QoE of video streaming to a mobile handset is evaluated by NTT's algorithm. Future communication quality is then predicted considering the user's environment. The algorithm optimally controls the bitrate in the midst of video streaming so as to achieve the preset QoE target.

NTT said its technology for video streaming enables maximum QoE, while reducing traffic over the network.

http://www.ntt.co.jp/news2018/1804e/180419a.html

China Unicom and Huawei collaborate on 5G slicing research

China Unicom and Huawei agreed to jointly carry out research, demonstration, and application of 5G network slicing, develop key technologies and solutions for China Unicom's 5G network slicing services and applications, jointly promote industry chain development, and apply slices to more vertical industry markets, such as VR/AR games, industrial control, Internet of Vehicles (IoV), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Zhang Yong, President of China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute, said: "Network slicing is a key native capability of 5G, which can maximize the efficiency of communications networks and reduce network construction and O&M costs. In the 5G era, the concepts of slice as a capability and slice as a product have become an industry consensus. China Unicom will demonstrate the multi-scenario slicing service in vertical industries and deepen the integration with the industry to facilitate digitalization in China.

“We hope that both parties can focus efforts on terminals, chips, networks, and vertical industries, accelerate the slice demonstration and application, and jointly build a new 5G slicing ecosystem in 2018 and 2019, for the purpose of formulating the 5G blueprint, creating completely new markets for 5G, and achieving a win-win through 5G network deployment," continued Zhang Yong.

Ericsson explores 5G use case with jet engine components

Ericsson and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology are exploring a 5G use case that concerns the production of jet engine components.

The components concerned, so-called blade integrated disks (blisk), are high-tech components where the disk and blades are produced as a single piece and serve the purpose of compressing the air inside jet engines. They are milled out of solid pieces of metal and have extremely high requirements towards accuracy and surface integrity.

5G's high-bandwidth and low latency are leveraged for controlling factory equipment. Ericsson's 5G trial system operating on 3.5 GHz is connected to an acceleration sensor mounted directly on the blisk in the production machinery. The vibration spectrum is transmitted in real time via 5G to the evaluation system. The very low latency helps correlate the vibration to the tool's position and enable prompt adjustment of the production process.

Thomas Dautl, Director of Manufacturing Technology, MTU Aero Engines, says: "A blade-integrated disk is a high-value component. The milling process takes 15-20 hours and the total lead time is around 3-4 months, including coating processes and quality checks. The new 5G-based production technology will help make our operations more efficient."

Corning in conversation with Verizon



Part 2



Will the new wave of wireless cannibalize fiber? At the end of the day, you cannot beat the bandwidth of fiber, says Glenn Wellbrock, Director, Backbone Network Design, Verizon. On the contrary, the new wave of wireless will drive significant deployments of fiber deep into the network.

In this conversation, Glenn and Bob Whitman, VP of Market Development, Corning, talk about Verizon's One Fiber program.

See video - part 1: https://youtu.be/Sq7F5OVflyA

See video - part 2: hhttps://youtu.be/pYeZjLkuytc




Data Center constructions booms in Des Moines, Iowa

Data center is booming in Iowa -- there are more than 6,150,000 square feet of data center space built or slated to be built in the Greater Des Moines (DSM) region. Some highlights:

  • There is an average of 800 construction workers on site at Facebook's Altoona data centers. 
  • To date, Facebook has constructed 1.5 million square feet of data center space and has 1 million square feet under construction. The total spend is expected to be around $1.5 billion.
  • Microsoft's data center buildings currently total a little under 1.5 million square feet with 1.7 million square feet planned for its third campus in West Des Moines.
  • LightEdge Solutions has two data centers totaling 78,000 square feet in Altoona and employs more than 100 people. 
  • In 2017, Apple announced 400,000 square feet of data center space will be a built in Waukee. Construction will begin this summer.

The data was provided by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, an economic and community development organization that serves the region.

"DSM has built a reputation as a tech hub offering affordable renewable energy and high skilled talent," said Jay Byers, Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO. "Data center activity means jobs for hundreds of tech and construction workers, revenue for local cities and increased national and international exposure for our region."

Brazil Tower raises $104M in debt financing for expansion

Brazil Tower Company (BTC), a privately-held, neutral host tower company with over 600 wireless towers currently in its portfolio, recently closed on US$79 million of a $104 million long-term senior secured debt financing with three international lenders led by Cordiant Capital of Montreal, Canada.  BTC expects to close on the remaining $25 million of financing during Q3 of this year. 

BTC, whose customers include the major wireless operators including Telefonica, TIM and Claro, plans to use the funds to add 600 more towers.

"We are very excited about the growth we are realizing in Brazil through new tower development and new collocations and amendments.  Our backlog of new towers and pipeline for growth is the strongest we have seen since 2015," said Tom Staz, BTC's Chief Financial Officer and a partner at 1848 Capital Partners in Miami, BTC's primary equity sponsor.  "With the support of our new debt facility and a large inventory of customer orders, we will continue to strategically rollout new tower sites over the next 18 - 24 months to double the size of our tower portfolio and triple the cash flows of the business."

Molex and Rosenberger sign dual-sourcing agreement for automotive coaxial connectors

Molex and Rosenberger have signed a dual-sourcing agreement allowing Molex to produce High-Speed FAKRA-Mini automotive coaxial connectors based on the Rosenberger HFM design, which support data rates up to 20 Gbps. Rosenberger HFM FAKRA-Mini system is designed for a range of existing and future automotive applications, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), navigation, infotainment and intelligent connected vehicles.

With the dual sourcing agreement, the companies provide a high-quality, high-speed, cost-optimized intermateable interface with identical mechanical and electrical performance and features. The solution delivers seamless backward compatibility for the automotive market.

“Molex is excited to collaborate with Rosenberger to launch the dual-sourced HFM solution that enables high-speed data transmission fundamental to connected vehicle technology,” said Ryan Price, networking segment director, Molex. “Our shared vision is to deliver a high value, cost effective solution that provides design flexibility and backward compatibility.”

“Ensuring safety is the ultimate priority of ADAS and autonomous driving systems, and HFM connectors play a key role in processing the high data volumes from cameras, sensors, navigation sources and other external objects in real time,” said Dr. Tosja Zywietz, CEO, Rosenberger. “We are pleased to collaborate with Molex on making this next-generation coax connector widely available to the automotive industry as a quasi standard.”

https://www.molex.com/automotive



Aquantia partnership - The Molex 10 Gbps Automotive Ethernet Network incorporates an Aquantia chip optimized for Multi-Gig 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ericsson sees better financial performance after cost cutting

Amidst a stabilizing mobile infrastructure market with initial 5G development work in North America, Ericsson reported Q1 2018 sales of SEK 43.4 billion (US$5.134 billion), down by -9% YoY. Sales, adjusted for currency, decreased by -2% YoY with lower revenues in market areas North East Asia as well as in South East Asia, Oceania and India. The other market areas showed growth. There was an operating income loss of SEK -0.3 billion (US$35.4 million), which is an improvement from the loss of SEK -11.3 billion for the same period last year. Gross margin was 34.2% (15.7%) 1). Gross margin excluding restructuring charges improved YoY, to 35.9% (18.7%) 1), supported by cost reductions and the continued ramp-up of Ericsson Radio System (ERS).

In North America, Ericsson benefitted from the First Net project underway at AT&T. LTE deployments in mainland China diminished. Ericsson also reports increasing traction for 5G – radio, core & IoT. An additional 500 R&D engineers have been recruited to help with 5G.

As of the end of Q1, Ericsson had 97,581 employees, down from 109,127  in Q2 2017.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, stated: "Our efforts to improve efficiency in service delivery and common costs are starting to pay off. The gross margin improved to 36% (19%) in the quarter, tracking well towards our Group target of 37-39% by 2020. A cornerstone in our strategy is to invest in R&D for both technology leadership and cost leadership, which will allow us to generate higher gross margins. We continue to increase our R&D investments in Networks to lead in 5G. In Digital Services we continue to increase investments into our new cloud-native portfolio as well as changing our ways of working for better R&D efficiency. In Managed Services we continue to focus on machine intelligence, automation and analytics to further enhance user experience, improve efficiency and better manage the increasingly complex networks of tomorrow."

It may not be too late for cloud giants to enter the mobile market

It was over seven years ago, in December 2010, that NTT DOCOMO launched its 4G LTE network. Japan, of course, was already heavily saturated with 3G coverage and mobile penetration rates were among the highest in the world. DOCOMO’s 4G network was an instant success and very quickly itd subscribers upgraded their phones and moved onto mobile data plans. DOCOMO's network grew and grew, and so did those of its competitors – KDDI and Softbank Mobile. Since then, the Japanese population has not given up their mobile devices. Like everywhere, people are checking their phones all day long, from the moment they awake till late at night.

With their upcoming launch of commercial 5G services over the next 2 years, DOCOMO and KDDI are looking for history to repeat. They will be among the first operators worldwide to deploy the next generation of mobile technology and they hope the market will respond. But, there is a surprise twist. A new entrant, Rakuten, plans to launch a new 4G network by October 2019 – nearly nine years behind the market leaders, and in a market that seems oversaturated and with this little prospect of growth for the “old wave” technology.

This week, Rakuten received approval from Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications to launch a new 4G network.based on its own mobile base stations.

Rakuten Mobile Network will operate over the 1.7 GHz frequency band with over 1,825 MHz of spectrum. The company aims to launch service in October 2019. The company plans to raise a maximum of JPY 600 billion to fund the rollout of the network. Of this, Rakuten Inc. (the parent company) plans to provide a maximum of JPY 200 billion - a hedge on its bet.

Rakuten – Japan’s e-commerce giant

Founded in 1999 by Hiroshi Mikitan, Rakuten is Japan’s e-commerce leader – the local equivalent of Amazon or Alibaba – but far from being a me-too follower, the company has consistently innovated and acquired to advance its vision. It now offers online merchandise for consumers and businesses, life insurance, fire insurance, travel insurance, digital content, an advertising network, and a growing list of communications services. Rakuten also operates the country’s biggest Internet bank and third-largest credit card company by transaction value.



Outside of Japan, Rakuten’s  major acquisitions include Buy.com (now Rakuten.com in the US), PriceMinister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland), Play.com (now Rakuten.co.uk in the UK), Wuaki.tv (now Rakuten TV in Spain), Kobo Inc. (now Rakuten Kobo in Canada), Viber (now Rakuten Viber), Ebates, Viki (now Rakuten Viki), OverDrive, Inc. (now Rakuten OverDrive), Slice (now Rakuten Slice) and The Grommet.
Until now, Rakuten has experimented with being a mobile virtual network operator, claiming 1.5 million users. Going forward, Rakuten reckons that around JPY 600 billion is enough to build a nationwide network of 4G base stations. The company says it has poached key executives from the other three big mobile operators. It is also known to be seeking advice from network equipment suppliers about how to rollout a nationwide network as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A key metric for Rakuten is its global gross transaction value, which is the sum total of everything sold on its platform. For 2017, that figure was up 21%.

Strategic thinking

Given its current size and the deep pull from its consumer base, one might expect that it would be easier and faster for Rakuten to buy out one of the three existing mobile operators compared with the time and trouble of building a whole new 4G network.  Practically speaking, no such option exists in Japan for Rakuten. NTT Docomo obviously is out of reach. KDDI is doing well enough on its own as the main challenger to Docomo, so is unlikely to be interested. And Softbank Japan, with Masayoshi Son at its helm, has big ambitions of its own, making the prospects of a merger or buyout with Rakuten unlikely.

For Rakuten, the value of becoming a mobile operator is not to battle it out with Docomo in hopes of poaching subscribers and earning a thin margin on the sale of monthly 4G data plans. Rakuten’s strategic thoughts must centre on building direct access to its e-shopping consumers.  It might even be willing to accept losses in the first years of operating the forthcoming mobile network, in return for a building a better e-commerce experience for its consumers.

In India, Reliance Jio is another late-comer to the mobile market and it too has been willing to suffer deep losses to build its new nationwide network and to establish its subscriber base. However, in Jio case, there is not a thriving e-commerce business to justify the risk.
There are however other cloud giants who will be watching Rakuten’s entrance into the mobile business. Alibaba might be constrained in doing so in its home market, unless the government wants a fourth competitor. But conceivably Alibaba could try its luck as a mobile operator overseas. The other big player of course is Amazon, who might very well be studying Rakuten’s moves.

Video: Go!Foton in conversation with Verizon



The optical networking industry has always faced the challenge of how to achieve more at lower cost, says Simin Cai, CEO of Go!Foton.

This conversation with Glenn Wellbrock, Director, Backbone Network Design, Verizon, explores innovation in optical connectors, patch panels, rack flexibility, automated operations, and network design. Doing more and costing less.

See video: https://youtu.be/GSc1GKk0Crc



Alibaba Cloud expands to Turkey

Alibaba Cloud has established a partnership with Istanbul-based B2B services provider e-Glober to accelerate its entry into Turkey's cloud market.

e-Glober was already Turkey’s sole authorized agent and business partner of Alibaba's global wholesale platform. It will now deliver Alibaba Cloud’s suite of services to the exporters, small and medium-sized businesses and other local companies it Turkey.

“Alibaba Cloud has always been dedicated to making our future-proof technology inclusive within the markets in which we operate,” said Yeming Wang, deputy general manager of Alibaba Cloud Global. “We aim to become the preferred cloud service provider for all sizes of business in Turkey by providing a full range of cloud solutions and combining this with E-Glober’s local expertise.”

Alibaba acquires C-SKY Microsystems for embedded IoT CPUs

Alibaba has acquired Hangzhou Zhongtian Microsystem Co. (C-SKY Microsystems, a leading developer of embedded CPUs, for an undisclosed sum.

C-SKY, which was founded in 2001 and is based in Hangzhou's Hi-Tech Zone, offers a series of 32-bit "C-SKY" embedded CPU cores based on independent intellectual property rights. The chips are widely used in Internet of Things intelligent hardware, digital audio and video, information security, networking and communications, industrial control, and automotive electronics.