CommScope likes the look of Arris – report

Reuters reckons US networking vendor CommScope is seriously courting UK cable and set top box company Arris.

The report, which cites those shadowy ‘people familiar with the matter’ that are so often responsible for such leaks, just claims the two companies are in talks for CommScope to acquire Arris. The exponentially-growing public demand for streaming video is apparently one of the big drivers behind the talks.

The market values of the two companies aren’t too far apart, but a big reason for this was CommScope’s share price going down the toilet when it announced its Q1 2018 numbers. Specifically forward guidance that indicating a degree of commoditisation in its core markets seemed to spook investors and it could well be that a good old bit of M&A might be just what they need to cheer them up.

Arris is no stranger to M&A of late, having grabbed Ruckus from Broadcom at the end of last year. There seems to be a bit of an accelerated trend towards consolidation among tier 2 kit vendors, apparently catalysed by fear of commoditisation. Light Reading has further analysis of the pros and cons of the potential move here.

5G needs to be profitable

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Ray Butler vice president of Wireless Network Engineering at CommScope, looks at how to prioritize your 5G investments.

A fundamental driver for the evolution to 5G is the gap that has developed between consumer data usage and revenue per user. That gap is widening, making wireless network operators’ profitability challenging to maintain while subscriber demand continues to soar. Lowering the cost per bit for delivering wireless service is a critical business objective for 5G. This can be achieved through efficiencies in convergence, Cloud-RAN and DC power options.

To achieve cost efficiencies in 5G while delivering a superior user experience, many operators are converging their wireline and wireless networks. Fiber optic cables provide the backbone that extends ever-closer to the end user. Traditionally, fixed and wireless networks evolved independently of each other. In 5G, a fiber-to-the-x (FTTx) network will connect small cell sites and/or deliver fixed wireless access across the same fiber cables. Operators need to maximize synergies wherever possible to decrease the delivery cost per bit.

Efficiency is a critical design requirement for all aspects of 5G throughout the converged network. This encompasses a variety of network technologies—from a spectrally efficient design of the air interface, to an implementation of a virtualized, load-balancing core; to small cells that can be cost-effectively sited and serviced with power and backhaul. The quality of the RF path is always mission critical in a wireless network because the level of noise and interference strongly determines the data throughput.  To this end, operators must focus on ensuring a clean RF path.

Passive optical components and wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) can have a significant impact on the efficiency of fiber fronthaul/backhaul networks. The incorporation of wavelength division multiplexers reduces the amount of fibers required in the network, leveraging the installed plant, and decreasing both the footprint and investment cost of network roll-outs.  WDM also protects current investments from future increasing bandwidth requirements.  In existing networks, these components allow capacity upgrades at a relatively low cost without additional construction works. Adding components that monitor the network without disturbing any other signals reduces operational expenses.

The road to 5G also involves the centralization of baseband processing, which provides operating expenditure and capital expenditure savings through pooling of available resources. The next step is virtualizing BBUs on commercial-off-the-shelf servers to evolve the network to true Cloud RAN (C-RAN). The C-RAN architecture will bring computing capabilities closer to the edge, which is necessary for low latency applications. Virtualization engenders optimization and provides capacity elasticity, greater efficiency and more throughput capacity. In addition to saving on hardware costs, the C-RAN model can create significant savings in terms of power, cooling and site leasing costs. In Asia (the first region to successfully deploy C-RAN commercially), China Mobile has seen 30-60 percent savings in total cost of ownership by deploying the C-RAN architecture.

Every edge device needs local power, which has traditionally involved AC power grid connections made by electrical contractors. Between labor availability and permitting hurdles, this can be a slow and expensive process, and provisioning conventional power may add as much as $15,000 to the cost of a single device connection. A smart alternative is distributed power connectivity that utilizes high-efficiency DC-DC conversion technologies, and which doesn’t require licensed electricians, thus streamlining the permitting process. This approach allows the centralization of power management and organization of central battery backups for a cluster of mission-critical edge devices, such as 5G small cells or fixed wireless radios.

Rising data demand will continue to pressure MNOs, and their balance sheets, for 4G and 5G. Network operators need solutions that evolve their LTE infrastructure for higher bandwidth, more efficiency, easier manageability and lower costs now and on the path to 5G. Network convergence, C-RAN and DC power delivery are some of the areas where cost-savings can be achieved. Of course, there are other opportunities and many more are likely to appear in this ever-changing landscape. As in all business scenarios, the total cost of ownership for new solutions needs to be considered.  And any network investments now need to have the 5G future readily in mind.

 

Ray ButlerRay Butler will be speaking on ‘LTE Advanced Pro: Massively Expanding Gigabit LTE Coverage’ on 16 May at 5G North America 2018 in Austin, Texas. Ray is vice president of Wireless Network Engineering at CommScope, responsible for wireless technical sales leadership in outdoor Radio Frequency (RF) products.  Previously, Ray led the Research & Development team responsible for base station antennas, filters, combiners, remote radio heads and RF power amplifiers. He also worked for Andrew Corporation as vice president of base station antennas engineering, and systems engineering and solutions marketing, respectively.

How does the MEA keep pace with transformation?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Femi Oshiga, Vice President of Service Providers, MEA at CommScope, discusses some of the things MEA telcos should consider in order to stay ahead of the game.

African and Middle Eastern end-consumers, who make up more than 20 percent of the global population, are increasingly mobile and social. It’s pretty incredible that 50 percent of Africa’s urban population is online, primarily through their mobile devices which play an increasingly important role in socio-economic development. And we’re seeing increased smartphone penetration in the Middle East, growing from 23 percent in 2014 to 58 percent in 2020.

The mobile industry in 2018 is the increasing acceleration of growth of high speed mobile broadband, driven by the continuing evolution of LTE.

We are already seeing the emergence of incredibly fast ‘Gigabit’ LTE sites, with LTE latency under 20 milliseconds across large parts of the network and LTE regularly delivering speeds in excess of 100 Mbps downloads and uploads.

LTE is going to continue to be the underpinning network of the “network-of-networks” that 5G promises. And 5G is going to gradually become the primary macro network technology to drive the Internet of Things (IoT) and super low latency applications over the coming year.

As network operators seek to take advantage of this wireless transformation, they should consider the following:

  1. Power: The requirement for powerat every wireless access point is essential, but often assumed as available or even forgotten until the completion of network planning.  
  2. Backhaul: From microwave transmission to fixed wireless access as well as backhaul via Fibre to the X (FTTX), a solution to carry traffic from the network sites to a central office for switching, caching and forwarding is imperative.
  3. Site acquisition: This is still a huge challenge. We’re starting to see larger volume projects, but it still takes longer than anyone wants. Zoning processes that last 12 months or more are just too long.

Constant change is the status quo

In places like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the government is reimagining what transportation and education will look like in the future. They’ve appointed the world’s first Minister for Artificial Intelligence and more than half a million people from 22 countries have applied to participate in the One Million Arab Coders programme. My colleagues and I are debating whether or not flying cabs may soon be a reality.

We expect to see many more industrial applications of these use cases in 2018 with robotic manufacturing techniques coordinated wirelessly with ultra-low latency. In the longer-term, the real promise of the 5G era is that combination of low latency, high speeds and low-power M2M sensors and IoT devices.

It’s no surprise the younger generation is driving this future. A report by HSBC Private Bank suggests that the Middle East is home to the highest proportion of millennial entrepreneurs in the world. Sixty three percent of the business owners they screened in the Middle East were aged 35 or under.

2018 is the year in which we will finally see measurable business outcomes from a number of emerging 5G technologies. It is the year in which we can stop being distracted by the media hype and finally start to see some of the many promises surrounding 5G in the enterprise come to fruition.

 

Meet Commscope and learn more about progress towards 5G in the Middle East and North Africa next month at 5G MENA 2018, the largest event in the region to focus on advancing and commercialising 4G and 5G networks.

Young people are obsessed with the mobile internet, who knew?

New global research by networking vendor CommScope reveals users aged 13-22 are umbilically dependent on their smartphones.

This age range is being referred to as Generation Z and CommScope spoke to 4,000 of them in eight major cities around the world. The top-line findings are that they check their phones constantly, share stuff feely online – none of which they expect to remain private – and their most popular career aspiration is to be a famous YouTuber.

“Tech intimates, that check their devices every three minutes on average, are set to shape how we live, work and play in the future,” said Fiona Nolan, SVP of Global Marketing at CommScope. “Their attitudes and usage of technology will have a big impact on society, paving the way for significant social, political and technological changes.

In the space of a generation content consumption habits have moved almost entirely from broadcast to on-demand. Today’s teenagers find the thought of consuming a piece of video content when it’s broadcast, rather than whenever they want it, to be as anachronistic as sending a telegram.

The telecoms relevance of all this is already well known: on-demand usage requires data networks. And while anyone who has kids is unlikely to find the findings of this survey remotely surprising, it’s still interesting to see what Generation Z is up to. Here are some more data points from the survey.

Commscope survey 1

Commscope survey 2

Elsewhere YouGov has surveyed the next generational pigeon-hole – the Millenial – and it turns out their favourite brand is Netflix. A quick inference you could draw from this is the video viewing transition has gone from broadcast to on-demand to user-generated in the space of a generation.