Sunday, July 8, 2018

DOCOMO tests live, 360° 8K video streaming

NTT DOCOMO is previewing the world's first 8K virtual reality (VR) live video streaming and viewing system 360° 8K video.

DOCOMO said its 8K VR system uses FPGAs for extra-fast processing and an algorithm for high-density mounting (maximizes FPGA processing) at 30 frames per second (fps).  A head-mounted display is used to view the 360° 8K video. The system stitches together five 4K fisheye videos from five outward-facing cameras in real time at 30fps. It leverages an 8K H.264 encoder for real-time compression, the real-time Panorama Cho Engine encoder to divide the 360° 8K video into multi-direction tiles, and a server to transmit tiles according to the user's viewing direction.

This system will be exhibited at DOCOMO 5G Open Lab Yotsuya.

O-RAN approves architecture, sets WGs, elects AT&T's Fuetsch as chair

The O-RAN Alliance has approved its overall O-RAN architecture plan and established an initial set of seven working groups to drive the work forward. These are:

WG1: Use Cases & Overall Architecture
WG2: Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) (non-Real Time) & A1 Interface
WG3: RIC (near-Real Time) & E2 Interface
WG4: Open Fronthaul (FH) Interface
WG5: Stack Reference Design and F1/V1/E1/X2
WG6: Cloudification and orchestration
WG7: White Box Hardware

At its recent meeting at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the O-RAN Alliance also elected Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs, as chair of the Board. In addition, Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, was appointed as Operations Officer; and Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK telecom, Telefonica, and Telstra were approved as new Board members. This expands the number of Board Directors to 12.

“We are on a journey to transform the way that communications networks are built,” said Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and president, AT&T Labs. “Last year in AT&T we reached virtualisation of 55% of our core network, and we joined the industry in launching ONAP to extend the reach of open virtualisation and automation. The Open Networking Foundation is extending virtualisation beyond the core, to re-architect the central office and access technology. And now we are taking the next major step of this journey, to open and virtualise global wireless networks, with the founding and expansion of the O-RAN Alliance. The O-RAN Alliance will drive intelligent, open software-defined networks and virtualisation elements that will help 5G networks achieve their full potential and unlock new experiences for consumers and businesses around the world.”
“To realise the full potential of 5G, it is essential that we evolve the full end-to-end system architecture to be more flexible, agile and efficient.  We look forward now to intensifying the work with our industry partners in the O-RAN Alliance to push more openness, intelligence and programmability into the radio access network and accelerate the transformation of mobile networks,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, Operations Officer of the O-RAN Alliance and SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.

xRAN Forum merges with C-RAN Alliance, seeking innovation in radio access

Two industry organizations are combining their efforts to drive innovation in radio access networks.

The xRAN Forum will merge with the C-RAN Alliance to form the ORAN Alliance, which is backed by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, and Orange.

  • The key principles of the ORAN Alliance include:
  • Leading the industry towards open, interoperable interfaces, RAN virtualization, and big data enabled RAN intelligence.
  • Maximizing the use of common-off-the-shelf hardware and merchant silicon and minimizing proprietary hardware.
  • Specifying APIs and interfaces, driving standards to adopt them as appropriate, and exploring open source where appropriate.

“xRAN Forum members have made excellent progress this year and we expect completion of the first open, interoperable front haul specification in March,” said Dr. Sachin Katti, Professor at Stanford University and Director of the xRAN Forum. “We are advancing both a southbound interface specification to an open RAN and a northbound interface specification, delivering applications access to rich controller functions and abstracted RAN control. Going forward, we believe there will be strong, complimentary collaboration with our new colleagues from the C-RAN Alliance.”

“The xRAN Forum was created to accelerate the delivery of products that support a common, open architecture and standardized interfaces that we, as operators, view as the foundation of our next-generation wireless infrastructure,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Research & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom. “xRAN members have made strong progress this year, and we are confident that by building on the xRAN architecture in combination with the RAN virtualization focus brought by the C-RAN Alliance, we are well positioned to achieve the joint objectives of the ORAN Alliance.”

"Our industry is approaching an inflection point, where increasing infrastructure virtualization will combine with embedded intelligence to deliver more agile services and advanced capabilities to our customers. The xRAN Forum has been at the forefront of defining the next generation RAN architecture for this transformation," said Andre Fuetsch, CTO and President AT&T Labs. "This is a global change that will impact all network operators. It will be accelerated by the merger of the xRAN Forum and the C-RAN Alliance into the ORAN Alliance, which promises to be a strong global forum."

Nokia to set up R&D lab with China Mobile in Hangzhou

Nokia and China Mobile signed a MoU to establish a joint laboratory in Hangzhou, China to study the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to 5G.

The new laboratory promises to foster an open RAN and 5G ecosystem working with third parties. The team will use the Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN, AirFrame OpenRack, open edge server and ReefShark chipsets, as well as Nokia-developed AI middleware to access embedded intelligence. Nokia and China Mobile will also conduct technology field trials and demonstrations.

China Mobile will lead the research in terms of scenario selection, requirements confirmation, open API standardization and solution definition.

"China Mobile has been paying attention to the application of artificial intelligence for a long time, and making effort to build an open and collaborative 5G+AI  ecosystem. With the signing of this MoU, we are pleased to t initiate the collaboration on the research of big data and machine learning technologies applying to 5G RAN network, and make joint effort in the O-RAN alliance which was kickoffed recently to enhance the intelligence of 5G network, reduce the complexity, and explore the new capabilities of network," says Yuhong Huang, Deputy General Manager of China Mobile Research Institute.

ZTE names XU Ziyang as new president

ZTE confirmed the appointment of Mr. Xu Ziyang as the President of the company, and the appointments of Mr. Wang Xiyu, Mr. Gu Junying, and Ms. Li Ying as Executive Vice President of the company. Ms. Li Ying will also serve concurrently as Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Xu Ziyang (徐子陽), born in 1972, graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He joined ZTE in 1998 and served as a programmer, section chief of GSM product line development department of Nanjing Research and Development Center, head of PS development department, deputy general manager of core network, and product general manager of core network.  From 2011 to 2013, Mr. Xu acted as general manager of MKT fourth branch of the company in charge of European and United States systems products. From 2014 to 2016, Mr. Xu acted as general manager of ZTE Services Deutschland Gmbh. Since 2016, Mr. Xu has been acting concurrently as assistant to the President of the Company and product general manager of the CCN core network product line products of wireless operation department of the company.

ZTE emphasized that Mr. Xu has not been subject to any penalties by China Securities Regulatory Commission or any other disciplinary sanctions by any other stock exchange. Nor has Mr. Xu been the subject of any judicial investigations.

Orange brings 5G tests in 3.7 - 3.8GHz to Marseille

Orange has received regulatory approval to begin 5G testing in the 3.7 - 3.8GHz frequency band in the city of Marseille.

Orange will use equipment from Nokia for this trial deployment.

Orange's 5G strategy has three components: improved high-speed mobile broadband, high-speed fixed broadband access and new uses - notably through connected objects to support the digital transformation of different business sectors.

Carrier Blockchain Study Group gains members

The Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG), which was formed in September 2017, added several new members including Axiata, Philippine-based PLDT, Indonesia-based PT.Telekomunikasi Indonesia International, Turkcell, Vietnam-based Viettel, and Kuwait-headquartered Zain Group.

The Consortium is also announcing the creation of an additional blockchain working group that will focus on global remittance services. Blockchain technology is well suited for these types of transactions; streamlining processes to better serve consumers. The blockchain platform and solutions proposed by the CBSG Consortium are specifically designed for telecom carriers and will help them create and extend their services beyond traditional markets and borders.

Russia's MTS demos 5G in St. Petersburg

Russia's Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) demonstrated a series of 5G scenarios including HD video calls, ultra-low latency video games and high-definition video streaming at an exhibition at Popov Central Museum of Radio Communications, one of the world’s oldest museums of science and technology, in St. Petersburg.

The demonstration utilized Samsung’s 5G end-to-end solutions including 5G routers (CPE, Customer Premise Equipment) and prototype tablets, the 5G radio access unit, virtualized RAN and the virtualized core network.

“Our goal is to adapt new technologies to commercial use in cooperation with industry-leading vendors. Today’s trial with Samsung Electronics demonstrates that 5G is not an academic theory, but presents a nearly ready set of practical network solutions that will allow customers to manage a broad range of everyday tasks and open new opportunities that are unachievable on 4G,” commented Pavel Korotin, Director of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, MTS.

http://www.mtsgsm.com
https://news.samsung.com

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ericsson opens 5G Lab at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi)

Ericsson has established a Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab for 5G at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

In addition, Ericsson conducted India’s first 5G over the air beam tracking demonstration on 3.5GHz spectrum using a pre-commercial end-to-end system including 5G-NR, VRAN and VCORE. The demonstration includes 3GPP 5G NR Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications (I/C) and Minister of State for Railways, said: “I would like to congratulate Ericsson for taking the lead in terms of setting up the first 5G Center of Excellence and Innovation Lab in the country. The 5G Center of Excellence supports the Government’s plans to foster a robust and vibrant 5G ecosystem in India. We want India to be an active participant in the design, development and manufacture of 5G-based technologies, products and apps.”

Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi stated, “We at IIT Delhi are committed to collaborating with industry and Government to develop technologies that enable connectivity for millions. We take pride in hosting the Ericsson Center of Excellence and Innovation Lab, thereby playing a pivotal role for the industry and academia to come together, test out new technologies and explore the full potential of 5G.”

Wind Tre picks Ericsson to update its RAN across Italy.

Wind Tre, which serves 31 million mobile users, has selected Ericsson to modernize its Radio Access Network (RAN) across Italy. The upgrade will see the implementation of the Ericsson Radio System (ERS) product portfolio into the Italian communications service provider’s network starting October 2018, including new ERS Radios, and ERS Basebands to improve network quality and user experience. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Europe & Latin America at Ericsson, says: “More and more service providers are turning to our state of the art Ericsson Radio System to answer their RAN transformation challenges. Our strengthened partnership with Wind Tre will bring the best radio access solutions on the market to life in their nationwide network. This will help to ensure that Wind Tre delivers the best user experience possible to its customers in an increasingly data hungry and ultra-low-latency demanding market.”


Nokia and Tencent partner on 5G webscale research

Nokia and Tencent, one of China's leading providers of Internet services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering joint research and development work to explore the potential of 5G for the provision of new applications, including those for a variety of vertical markets.

Nokia and Tencent will establish an end-to-end 5G test environment in Shenzhen. With 1.04 billion combined monthly active user accounts of its WeChat and QQ social media applications, Tencent aims to leverage the massive connectivity, increased speeds, capacity and reliability and lower latency enabled by 5G to enhance these services.

Key elements of the agreement:

  • Establishes a joint laboratory  equipped with leading 5G technologies, products and solutions, including  centralized and decentralized split architecture using Nokia Airscale Radio Access Network, 5G Core, MEC framework and third party devices.
  • Leverages the capabilities of an end-to-end 5G testing environment. Nokia and Tencent will conduct verification on service key performance indicators and develop new 5G and IoT use cases.


Zeng Yu, Vice President at Tencent, said: "We are pleased to collaborate with Nokia to leverage the technologies, products and expertise of both our companies to fufill the growing demands of a digital economy driven by 5G. Tencent and Nokia are fully committed to delivering richer, more diverse, multi-level services and applications for enterprises, and individual customers. Furthermore, we will support each other in creating more financial and social benefits in our respective fields, to pursue success in the new era of digital economy."

Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "This collaboration with Tencent is an important step in showing webscale companies around the globe how they can leverage the end-to-end capabilities of Nokia's 5G Future X portfolio.  Working with them we can deliver a network that will allow them to extend their service offer to deliver myriad applications and services with the high-reliability and availability to support ever-growing and changing customer demands."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Marvell completes acquisition of Cavium

Marvell Technology Group completed its previously announced acquisition of Cavium in a deal valued at approximately $6 billion.

Cavium, which is based in San Jose, California, offers a portfolio of multi-core processing, networking communications, storage connectivity and security silicon solutions.

Marvell,  which is based in nearby Santa Clara, California but has its corporate headquarters in Bermuda, was founded in 1995 and has over 5,000 employees and over 9,000 patents.

“The next wave of semiconductor growth will be fueled by advancements in the data economy,” said Matt Murphy, Marvell’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Applications such as AI, 5G, Cloud, automotive, and edge computing all require engineering solutions that combine high bandwidth, very low power consumption, and leadership in complex system on a chip solutions. As a combined company, we now offer industry-leading IP, a broad portfolio of infrastructure solutions, and a talented team of innovators ready to tackle our customers’ toughest challenges. We’re excited to get started.”

Syed Ali, who is a co-founder of Cavium and served as its President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors since the company’s launch in 2000, had been appointed to Marvell's Board of Directors. In addition, Brad Buss and Dr. Edward Frank have also been appointed to the Marvell Board. Brad Buss served as a director of Cavium since July 2016, as CFO of SolarCity from 2014 to 2016, and as CFO of Cypress Semiconductor from 2005 to 2014. Dr. Edward Frank served as a director of Cavium since July 2016. A co-founder of startup Cloud Parity, Dr. Frank served as its CEO until September 2016. Earlier, he served as Vice President of Macintosh Hardware Systems Engineering at Apple from 2009 to 2013 and, prior to Apple, worked at Broadcom Corporation from 1999 to 2009.




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Charter launches Spectrum Mobile over Verizon infrastructure

Charter Communications, the second largest cable operator in the U.S. with over 25 million subscribers, launched its Spectrum Mobile service. Charter is operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) using Verizon's nationwide 4G LTE network in combination with its own nationwide network of Spectrum WiFi hotspots.

Spectrum Mobile is offering two plans: (1) unlimited data for $45 a month (2) By the Gig at a price of $14/GB. Both plans include free nationwide talk and text.

Comcast and Charter form 50/50 partnership for mobile backend

Comcast and Charter announce a 50/50 operating platform partnership focused on the development and design of backend systems that support Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile service. The partnership will be governed by a four-person board of directors, with two directors representing each of Comcast and Charter. The partnership will be based in Philadelphia and will utilize Comcast employees to support the development of the platform on behalf of both companies.

The companies said that while they will continue to develop their respective mobile brands, products, and services, there is an opportunity to work together to develop an efficient and scalable software platform, and related backend systems, which will power each company’s mobile-related customer sales and support platforms, device logistics and warehousing, and billing." The operating platform developed by the partnership will serve as the systems interface for current and any future MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) partners.

Danny Bowman, Chief Mobile Officer for Charter, said, “Our new partnership will enable us to drive faster and more cost-effective mobile product and service enhancements and provide innovative and affordable mobile service to our customers. We are excited about the launch of Spectrum Mobile in the coming months.”

“We have built a best-in-class mobile platform for Xfinity Mobile that is resonating with customers,” said Sam Schwartz, Chief Business Development Officer for Comcast. “By collaborating with Charter, we will help drive operational and cost efficiencies for both companies.”


FCC Approves Charter + Time Warner + Brighthouse Deal

The FCC approved the merger of Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable Inc. and acquisition of Bright House Networks.

Charter said it agreed to a number of conditions as part of the FCC approval.  Many of the conditions either codified or reflected specific commitments Charter offered proactively at the beginning of the transaction review process, including no data caps or usage-based billing, a commitment to build out high-speed broadband service to unserved and underserved customers, the fastest low-income broadband program of any major service provider, and settlement-free peering.

The California Public Utilities Commission vote is scheduled for May 12th, following last month's recommendation for approval from the California Administrative Law Judge.

"I want to thank Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O'Rielly for their thorough review of these transactions," said Tom Rutledge, President and CEO of Charter Communications.  "The significant benefits of these transactions are clear; greater competition, more consumer and OTT friendly broadband policies, broader access to affordable broadband, and added U.S. jobs.  The conditions are largely extensions of the longstanding consumer friendly values and practices of our company, and based on the commitments we put forward during the review process. Charter will be a stronger competitor in the broadband and video markets, well positioned to deliver these benefits and more to consumers."

U.S. provides a temporary lift on exports to ZTE

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) agreed to temporarily lift export restrictions to ZTE that were imposed on the company on 15-April-2018.

In a statement dated 02-July-2018, the BIS grants temporary authorization to engage in transactions with ZTE until 01-August-2018.

In June, at the urging of President Trump, BIS announced a deal with ZTE to lift the export restrictions in exchange for ZTE agreeing to pay a $1 billion fine and place an additional $400 million in suspended penalty money in escrow. ZTE has also replaced its entire board of directors and senior leadership team.

The ban on exports of U.S. technology to ZTE remains a hot topic in Washington. The U.S. Senate included a continued ban on exports to ZTE in a spending authorization bill for the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. House of Representative did not in its version of the legislation. The bills must now be reconciled before being sent to the President.



U.S. Senate's Defense Legislation hits ZTE






The U.S. Senate voted 85 to 10 to approve a $716 billion defense spending authorization bill that includes a provision extending the restriction on the export of U.S. technologies to ZTE. The provision is a rebuke to President Trump's decision to lift the ban against exports to ZTE. The Senate version of the defense spending authorization bill must be reconciled with the House version, which prohibits the federal government from purchasing ZTE products,...

ZTE resumes trading, seeks loan from Chinese banks





For the first time since April 16th, shares of ZTE resumed trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The shares were valued significantly lower than the previously listed price. ZTE also announced its intention to seek a 30 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) line of credit from Bank of China and a separate $6 billion credit line from China Development Bank. ZTE also informed the market that it has agreed to the settlement with the U.S. Department of Commerce...

U.S. reaches deal to save ZTE





The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a deal to allow the export of U.S. components and technology to ZTE, enabling the company to resume operations. Under the deal,  ZTE must pay $1 billion and place an additional $400 million in escrow. ZTE also agreed to certain provisions allowing monitoring of its compliance with U.S. export control laws. “Today, BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) is imposing the largest penalty it has ever levied...

FWD: The death of ZTE

Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation (ZTE), one of the world's largest suppliers of network infrastructure products, informed the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that "the major operating activities of the Company have ceased". 

If the notice means what we think it means, then ZTE is dead.

It took only 3 weeks from the day that the U.S. Commerce Department' Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued its order prohibiting companies or individuals from participating in any way in an export transaction with ZTE for this multinational giant based in Shenzhen to collapse. I'm not sure there has been any other corporate collapse in the networking sector of this magnitude and in this accelerated time frame. The nearest comparison would be the collapse of Nortel in 2009, but that took years to occur rather than just weeks.

ZTE's website has already started to disappear. Many product, technology and news archive pages are now gone.

The most proximate reason for the death of the company is that without new deliveries of chipsets and optical components from U.S. vendors, the manufacturing lines for ZTE must have already come to a halt, leaving the company unable to ship products. Just-in-time manufacturing probably means that the company has insufficient inventory to sustain operations during a protracted appeal or legal fight with the U.S. Department of Commerce. More importantly, if the market has lost confidence, the sharks smell blood, and normal operations become impossible.

There will be a scramble amongst investors, creditors, employees, competitors, suppliers, and customers to secure whatever value remains in the organisation. There should be plenty.

Salvaging the good bits

First, there is a huge installed base of ZTE equipment worldwide in carrier networks, in data centres, in enterprise IT centres, and in home networks. The value of this equipment could be in the tens of billions if we take a cumulative count of sales over the last four years. These networks, which belong to the customers and their lenders, will need to be supported.  There is ongoing business here for someone.

ZTE holds the No.1 or No. 2 markets share position on many of the core infrastructure projects of the big three carriers in China -- China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom.

All of ZTE's product segments were growing. Here are the 2017 annual growth rates:

  • Carrier networks  8.3%
  • Gov't and corporate  10.4%
  • Consumer 5.2%


Outside of China, ZTE has many current sales contracts and open purchase orders for new equipment, with good prospects of upcoming fibre broadband, 4G, 4G, and core network projects. 

ZTE has a very extensive telecom equipment portfolio, covering every sector of wireless networks, core networks, access & bearer networks, services and terminals. 

ZTE has been listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 1997 and on the Hong Kong Exchange since 2004. Trading has been suspended since April 16 and so there is no way to know quite yet if the shares are now worthless. The company's balance sheet at the end of 2017 showed RMB 31.647 billion in current assets, and the company's most recent statement said it was conserving cash.

ZTE has abundant in-house and contracted production facilities capable of manufacturing large volume of smartphones, customer premise equipment, and carrier infrastructure products. 

ZTE has many current and next-generation product designs using the latest silicon from U.S., Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and other international suppliers. The product designs could be sold to other equipment suppliers.

ZTE has a considerable patent portfolio. ZTE claims to amongst the most prolific corporate patent filers in recent years. As of 30-June-2017, ZTE Group 68,000 patents, including 29,000 granted global patents.

As of mid-2017, the company was operating 20 R&D centres in China, the United States, Sweden, France, Japan and Canada, as well as more than 10 joint innovation centres established in association with leading carriers.

There is a talented pool of 74,773 employees (including 58,940 as employees of the parent company), with an average age of 33. Many of these employees have deep subject matter expertise, the vast majority of whom had nothing to do with the business decisions that got ZTE into trouble. 

ZTE was gearing up for a big play in 5G

At this year's  Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ZTE captured the “Best Technology Innovation for 5G" award for its end-to-end vision encompassing the radio access network, the core network, bearer platforms, custom 5G silicon and CPE terminals. As with other suppliers, many of these are “works in progress” rather than commercially deployable solutions right now.

ZTE's has pushed hard on Massive MIMO, the antenna technology which has been shown to improve spectral efficiency up to 8 times.

It has been pioneering a multi-user shared access (MUSA) technology to effectively increase the number of connections served, and thereby enable support for scenarios involving mass connectivity with low power consumption. This could be extremely useful in very crowded areas, such as subway systems, when everyone is using their smartphone. The MUSA technology works by allowing high overload and eliminating scheduling operations, thereby increasing the number of connections by between 3- and 6-fold. It uses advanced spread spectrum sequence and SIC technology to simplify terminal implementation and help reduce energy consumption.

In the network core, ZTE is ready to commercialize end-to-end 5G network slicing. Its Cloud ServCore platform implements lightweight micro-service components to enable the network slices to operate independently and with easy scalability. This will allow IoT applications, for instance, to scale smoothly and without impacting other network slices.

ZTE is also readying a 5G Flexhaul bearer solution based on next-gen FlexE technology. Part of this vision to achieve a unified bearer network for 3G / 4G / 5G traffic. ZTE says its 5G Flexhaul achieves end-to-end protection switching time of less than 1ms, as well as single node forwarding latency of less than 0.5μs.




ZTE was a $20 billion company on the rise

Prior to receiving the death sentence for sanctions violations and lying to the U.S. government during a probationary period, ZTE was profitable and on a $20 billion per year sales run rate.

For Q1 2018, the company reported revenue of RMB 28.879 billion (US$5.548 billion), up 12% over the same period in 2017. Net profit after extraordinary items attributable to holders of ordinary shares of the listed company amounted to RMB 1.368 billion (US$216 million). For the full year 2017, ZTE reported operating revenue of RMB 108.82 billion, 7.49% higher than a year earlier,  

Net profit for 2017 was reported at RMB 4.55 billion, an increase of 293%. Net cash flow from operating activities for 2017 was approximately RMB 6.78 billion, about 28.88% year-on-year growth. This was a quite a recovery from 2016, when revenues grew just 4% and profits were lower. With booming handset sales in China, India and other developing markets, along with good prospects for 5G, things were looking pretty good for ZTE, until its troubles with the long-running exports violation case came to a head.

Big fine in 2017

ZTE's 2017 results were impacted by troubles with the U.S. government. In March 2017, ZTE made penalty payments of over US$1.19 billion to the U.S. government-- this too for the case involving the shipment of U.S.-origin technology to Iran during the period of economic sanctions. ZTE plead guilty in the case and paid the fine. It also agreed to a number of other conditions, which were not fulfilled, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, or which ZTE subsequently lied about. 

Huawei as the beneficiary? 

ZTE generates about 40% of its revenue abroad. 

We can surmise that many of the large carrier projects that ZTE currently has underway internationally will have been funded by the Bank of China,  the China Development Bank (CDB), or other government-backed, export/import financial institutions. These carrier customers are facing the prospect of suspended or canceled projects. This presents an opportunity for other network vendors to step in and capture the business. 

However, the customer would need to secure another funding source. Huawei is the most likely to be the ZTE replacement, especially if the Bank of China or CDB were to transfer project loans on their behalf. Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and others also have an opening to entice these ZTE carrier customers with their offerings.

But what if Huawei is next?

However,  it is conceivable that the Trump administration will ratchet up the pressure on Huawei, for instance by extending all of parts of the ZTE export ban to them, or by persuading other governments to block Huawei as has been done in the U.S.. Many analysts expected that the ZTE ban was a bargaining chip in the recent, first round of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. There was, and perhaps continues to be, hope that the order would be rescinded after the trade talks. This did not happen. Perhaps the trade tensions will get worse, with Huawei coming under pressure next.

With this possibility at hand, some large carriers in countries such as Japan, Germany or Singapore, may rethink their future plans with Chinese equipment vendors in general on critical projects so as not to face supply disruptions like we now see with ZTE. In Germany, Deutsche Telekom recently announced a 5G pilot deployment in Berlin using Huawei equipment. In the U.S., T-Mobile is prohibited from using Huawei as a supplier. With T-Mobile now seeking to merge with Sprint, U.S. regulators conceivably could require the German parent company to remove all Huawei gear from all of its networks as a condition for approving the merger. 

In other countries, there will be other geopolitical considerations. In Russia, ZTE has just clinched a 70% share of the first stage of  Rostelecom's the access network modernization project. ZTE's Multi-Service Access Network (MSAN) product delivers VDSL. Rostelcom is currently testing G.vectoring and G.fast for deployment in a second stage of its upgrade project. Rostelecom, of course, is Russia's leading broadband and pay-TV provider with over 12.7 million fixed-line broadband subscribers and over 9.7 million pay-TV subscribers, over 4.7 million of which are subscribed to its IPTV service. Given the need for Rostelcom to complete this network upgrade successfully, on-time and on budget, they will look for other suppliers.. but probably not from the U.S.

In India, ZTE is now a major supplier of low-cost smartphones and optical transmission gear. In October 2017, ZTE announced a 100G WDM Backbone Network Project and metro area network (MAN) construction contract with Idea Cellular, the third largest mobile operator in India with 189 million subscribers. With this deal, ZTE’s OTN optical transport platform captured a 95% share in the metro optical backbones that carry Idea Cellular’s traffic. ZTE has previously disclosed major contracts with Bharti Airtel as well. This success comes despite some protectionist voices in India warning against Chinese suppliers for critical network infrastructure.

Other recent contract wins include the Ooredoo Group, which serves 164 million customers across the Middle East, and South Africa based MTN. For Ooredoo Group, ZTE was expected to supply end-to-end networks, applications, and terminals in preparation for a 5G launch. MTN was also looking at deploying ZTE’s 5G NR radio access, 5G virtualized network slicing, carrier DevOps and container-based vEPC, and 5G Flexhaul bearer network.

The ZTE effect on suppliers

For those companies who were supplying chipsets, optical components, memories, display technologies, protocol stacks, etc. to ZTE, there will be a waiting game to see who takes up the slack. We can presume that the size and growth of the market will remain the same before and after this incident. If ZTE doesn't supply that core router, someone else will. 

What comes next?

The ZTE statement about ceasing normal activities holds out a glimmer of hope that the U.S. government might hear an appeal and grant a reprieve. Last week, U.S. trade negotiators visited China. Obviously, no deal occurred or ZTE would not have made its statement. 

Whatever comes next, it better happen quickly because sales contracts and talented employees will not stick around to what eventually emerges. The best people and ideas will move on to competitors or new ventures.

The most likely outcome is that ZTE individual business units are sold off, spun out, or otherwise reorganised into new corporate entities. In other words, the same cast of characters with the same products but operating under a new name.

U.S. seeks to block China Mobile from entering U.S. market

Citing national security concerns, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is requesting that the FCC deny a license request from China Mobile to offer services in the U.S. market.

“After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to U.S. law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved. Therefore, the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration pursuant to its statutory responsibility to coordinate the presentation of views of the Executive Branch to the FCC, recommends that the FCC deny China Mobile’s Section 214 license request.”

https://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2018/ntia-statement-china-mobile-s-section-214-application-fcc

  • China Mobile initially filed its petition for global facilities-based and global resale international Section 214 authority in September 2011.

Ciena's Packet Design acquisition enhances its Blue Planet automation

Ciena completed its previously announced acquisition of Packet Design, which focuses on network path optimization technologies.

Ciena said the integration of Packet Design’s capabilities enhances its Blue Planet network automation platform, which can now provide multi-domain, multi-vendor, and multi-layer support across Layers 0-3 of the network.

https://www.ciena.com/insights/articles/Ciena-Completes-Acquisition-of-Packet-Design.html

Ciena to acquire Packet Design for network analytics and path computation
Ciena agreed to acquire privately-held Packet Design, a provider of network performance management software focused on Layer 3 network optimization, topology and route analytics. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Packet Design's portfolio includes Route Explorer, an IP/MPLS route analytics software that provides management visibility into routing behavior for all IGP and BGP protocols, Layer 2/3 VPNs, traffic engineering tunnels, segment routing and multicast with real-time monitoring, historical reporting, and what-if modeling capabilities.

Ciena said the acquisition will help accelerate its Blue Planet software strategy by extending its intelligent automation capabilities beyond Layers 0-2 and into IP with critical new capabilities to help customers optimize service delivery and maximize network utilization. Specifically, the combination of the Blue Planet software platform and Packet Design’s performance analytics and service path computation capabilities will form a unique, micro-services-based platform that delivers real-time analytics, optimization and orchestration capabilities to support the broadest range of closed-loop automation use cases across multi-layer, multi-vendor networks.

“Blue Planet is already one of the premier brands in the network automation space. The addition of Packet Design will enhance our position by enabling customers to realize networks that are more adaptive – capable of self-optimizing and self-healing for faster time-to-market for new services, more efficient and lower cost network operations, and the ability to deliver an overall better customer experience,” said Rick Hamilton, senior vice president of Global Software and Services at Ciena.

China Mobile, Tencent, and Huawei test 5G eMBB slicing

China Mobile, Tencent, and Huawei have completed the first round of testing of 5G network slices designed for enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services requiring stable network latency. The target application is augmented reality (AR) gaming.

In Phase 1 of the 5G slicing verification project, terminals, networks, and AR game platforms were connected. The test verified the effects of data rate acceleration with slicing at the terminal side, and with slicing at both the terminal and network sides. The slice management function was also examined. The verification on network slicing usability represents a significant step in promoting the application of 5G network slicing.

AR games already allow for real-time positioning data. E2E Quality of Service (QoS) assurance is needed for consistent network latency and data rates.

Huawei said 5G networks will be able to offer "slicing as a service", with E2E QoS to support AR gaming.

China Mobile, Tencent, and Huawei have started Phase 2 of the 5G slicing verification, which should be complete by the end of the year. The project will focus 5G core networks' movement towards users, and the sensing of access network and bearer network slices. Slice management will also be closely examined. This includes research into slice template design, coordinated orchestration across terminal slices, core network slices, bearer network slices, and mobile edge computing (MEC). On-demand, flexible deployment of third-party applications on MEC will also be explored.

https://www.huawei.com/en/press-events/news/2018/6/ChinaMobile-Tencent-5G-eMBB-Slice-AR-Games

New Zealand signs ABB for North/South Island power link upgrade

Transpower New Zealand awarded a contract to ABB to upgrade the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link which interconnects the transmission grids of the North and South islands.

New Zealand's North Island houses more than three times the population of the South Island, which besides its picturesque landscape, offers vast amounts of hydropower.

ABB noted its historic involvement in the link-- the first New Zealand link was commissioned by ABB, (erstwhile ASEA), in 1965 as one of the first HVDC transmission systems in the world. It was originally a bipolar 600 megawatt (MW) link with mercury arc valves, until the original equipment was paralleled onto a single pole in 1992, and a new thyristor-based pole was commissioned by ABB alongside it, increasing capacity to 1040 MW. The first installation was decommissioned in 2012 after 47 years in operation.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Baidu integrates Intel's Mobileye into its autonomous vehicle project

Baidu will integrate Mobileye’s Responsibility Sensitive Safety (RSS) model in its open source Project Apollo and in its commercial Apollo Pilot programs. Baidu will also adopt Mobileye’s Surround Computer Vision Kit.

RSS is an open and transparent formal model that provides safety assurance of AV decision-making. RSS does this by formalizing common sense human-centered concepts of what it means to drive safely. Examples: always maintain a safe following distance and right-of-way is given but not taken.

The Mobileye Surround View Camera kit includes 12 cameras positioned around the vehicle plus Mobileye's computer vision (CV) hardware and software, which leverages the cameras combined view into a unified and comprehensive CV solution for autonomous cars.

“Our team recognizes the value and critical role that Mobileye’s RSS model plays in safely deploying autonomous driving. Project Apollo will integrate RSS to successfully enable safe driving today, and drive further autonomous research on China’s roadways,” stated Weihao Gu, general manager of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Unit.

https://www.mobileye.com

Baidu develops its own AI chip, rolls out first autonomous bus

At its second annual developer conference in Beijing this week, Baidu unveiled its "Kunlun" processor for AI applications.


Technical details on the new Kunlun silicon were scarce, but the company said its cloud-to-edge AI chip is built to accommodate high-performance requirements of a wide variety of AI scenarios, including deep learning and facial recognition.

Baidu is known to be developing FPGA designs for a number of years.

Baidu also announced volume production of China’s first commercially deployed fully autonomous bus. The first 100 "Apolong" buses are ready for the road.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Diane Bryant departs Google Cloud

Diane Bryant has stepped down as Chief Operating Officer for Google Cloud, where she reported to Diane Greene. Bryant joined Google Cloud in December 2017.

Byant was formerly Group President at Intel and known for her leadership Intel’s Data Center Group (DCG) as general manager and executive vice president.  Intel's DCG generated $17 billion in revenue in 2016.