GSMA puts out one final plea for spectrum sanity

With a crucial Ministerial Council Meeting looming where the European Electronic Communication Code will be discussed at length, the GSMA has put out a final appeal for reform.

The GSMA stance has not changed, and neither has it’s vocal PR campaign; reforming telecoms regulation is a crucial step to foster investment and innovation. The European Electronic Communication Code is an opportunity to create new policies and regulatory foundation to build the basis of the connected economy, but there are fears over the current path being tread by bureaucrats.

“Although the European Union’s vision of a ‘Gigabit Society’, and recent discussions amongst the European Heads of State, demonstrate a strong ambition to recapture the region’s digital leadership and harness the full power of digital to drive growth, jobs and competitiveness, we do not see action focused on delivering tangible results,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, in the letter.

Granryd seems to be saying something very simple here; thinking big is fine, but if you carry on this direction, you will mess it up. It might frustrating to watch, and there will always be need for vocal criticism in the industry, but Granryd perhaps needs to appreciate he is referring to civil servants. There are plenty of good ideas in the public sector offices, but more often than not, a lack of drive/resources/talent to achieve them.

The concern here is over Europe’s stance on spectrum management, which Granryd and his GSMA cronies believes need to be reformed. More specifically around the following areas:

  • More certainty and predictability for spectrum licenses
  • Minimum licence duration of 25 years with a strong presumption of renewal
  • Voluntary spectrum sharing to enable competition, innovation and differentiation
  • Fee structures that are reflective of efficient and effective use of spectrum as well as coverage commitments

Granryd’s concern is surround the status quo, and whether it will be preserved. This position would leave too much differentiation in the European markets, and a fragmented market is no good for anyone. The single market allows Europe to play the same game as the US or China, for instance, but whether this is an achievable dream remains to be seen. Change is difficult, but change is needed to ensure a successful transition to the digital economy. Granryd is clearly a bit nervous.

We certainly don’t like it when organizations feel the need to moan, especially through a letter, but you have to have a bit of sympathy for Granryd. Perhaps it is precedent set by public sector organizations, or the lofty assumption European heritage will take it back to a leadership role in the connected economy, but there is a risk of the easy, frictionless path will be taken.

The easy path is the preservation of the status quo, so Granryd might indeed have something to moan about before too long.

China Telecom and Huawei’s CloudFAN Slicing Solution Wins the Outstanding Innovation Team Award at PT Expo China 2017

Source: CWW Omnimedia

Beijing, September 27 (CWW) – At the PT Expo China 2017, China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch, the Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom, and Huawei received the annual Outstanding Technology Innovation Team award in the optical communication field. This award was received for a new PON OLT that supports flexible network slicing and its applications.

PT Expo China is hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. It is China’s largest exhibition and conference in the information communications field. In 2017, the Expo held its annual award selection, with an award selection committee composed of leading experts from the People’s Posts and Telecommunications News (PPTN), the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), academic institutions, and China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom and their research institutes. These awards are authoritative in the communications industry.

In 2016, China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch, a leading operator in broadband network construction, set a goal to implement giga-to-the-home access and create the first giga city within 3 years. It is estimated that more than 5000 communities will have gigabit access by the end of this year. China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch has different broadband user groups, including high-value enterprise leased line customers, common home users, and common campus users. Trends connected to gigabit broadband development, such as emergence of new service types, integrated service bearing, and intelligent operation, require that networks have the features of service isolation, flexible expansion, and fast service provisioning. Network operators must resolve problems due to increased user numbers, such as insufficient equipment room space and increased power consumption. To address these challenges, China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch, the Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom, and Huawei jointly set up an innovation team to conduct in-depth research on, and development and application of, network slicing.

Using the access network slicing architecture and device function requirements posed by the Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom, the innovation team created a technical solution. Huawei’s CloudFAN solution implements the slicing function through the MA5800, a next-generation large-capacity optical line terminal (OLT). Logical slicing is performed on device and network resources to bear different services, such as home, enterprise, and surveillance services. Each slice has a separate forwarding plane and control plane, which do not interfere with each other, effectively ensuring service reliability and network security. This eliminates the need to construct multiple subracks for different services, improving network usage. In the future open network lab of China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch, the development team of the Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom performed multiple rounds of stringent tests on the network slicing technology. The development team was the first in the world to perform these live network tests, and obtained good application effects. This technology meets requirements for isolation of multiple services, dramatically improves the OLT subrack usage, and reduces power consumption. China Telecom’s Shanghai Branch plans to take the lead in carrying out large-scale commercial implementation, and to promote this technology to other branches of the China Telecom Group.

The Outstanding Technology Innovation Team award not only recognizes the joint innovation mode between operators and equipment vendors, but also demonstrates industry acceptance and praise of the network slicing function of Huawei’s CloudFAN solution.

The network slicing function will drive the development of gigabit networks. Huawei, as an industry leader in the global access network market, continues to lead the development of the ultra-broadband (UBB) industry. Currently, Huawei’s distributed large-capacity OLT MA5800 and optical network terminals (ONTs) have been put into large-scale commercial use by over 50 operators around the world. To support future development, Huawei has released the CloudFAN solution. This solution allows multi-service bearing over one fiber, maximizing the values of operators’ access networks. By deploying this solution, operators are able to quickly provide home users with value-added services, and provide enterprise users with on-demand leased line services through cloud networks.

The Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom and Huawei are also dedicated to the promotion of software-defined access network technology around the world. The two parties worked together previously to lead the international standard BBF WT-358 Requirements for Support of SDN in Access Nodes. Through the successful implementation of the slicing function on OLTs in Shanghai, the two parties strive to standardize the access network slicing YANG model in international organizations such as BBF. This will further promote the development and applications of the access network slicing technology.

SK Telecom develops next-gen WiFi with quadruple speed

SK Telecom continues to be at the forefront of next-gen technologies with the development of WiFi offering quadruple the speed of the current standard.

The aim for the WiFi technology is to offer speeds at least as fast as 5G. Built on the IEEE’s 802.11ax standard, the new technology is able to deliver speeds up to 4.8Gbps — or nearly four times faster than current.

Existing 802.11ac WiFi technology is able to support up to 1.3 Gbps speeds. Few customers will ever reach anywhere near the maximum speed for their internet connection, but it helps to ensure wireless technology does not become a limitation further down the line.

SK Telecom’s new WiFi should help with dense traffic scenarios thanks to support for Dynamic Sensitivity Control (DSC) technology, and MIMO-OFDMA (a multiple access technique for multi-user version of OFDM.)

“By introducing the technology for the next generation Wi-Fi that can deliver as fast as 5G technology, we at SK Telecom have successfully laid foundation to offer better mobile services,” said Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom. Park added, “We are thrilled to work on the preparation on commercialising the technology and continue to innovate our capabilities to provide differentiated services to our customers.”

First announced back in Oct 2014, SK Telecom has begun rolling out impressive 10 Gbps broadband to some customers in the Seoul and Anyang areas. This service uses NG-PON2 (next generation-passive optical network 2) technology based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s international standard technology jointly developed with SK Telecom Network Technology Institute last year.

NG-PON2 technology is optical subscriber network technology capable of transmitting up to 40 Gbps traffic. SK Telecom achieved a stable 10 Gbps internet service to customers by securing an up to 40 Gbps transmission speed from the telecommunication company to equipment near customers.

As of Q4 2016, South Korea had the fastest national average internet connection in the world at 26.1 Mbit/s (according to the State of the Internet report published by Akamai Technologies.)

A testbed has been established for SK Telecom's new WiFi technology within the T Open Lab, the company’s R&D Center in the Bundang district of South Korea. This testbed will be used for analysing the performance of the new technology in various deployment scenarios — including high traffic density.

What are your thoughts on SK Telecom’s new WiFi technology? Let us know in the comments.

TIM agrees to Vivendi content tie-up, funny that

The Telecom Italia Board of Directors has announced the approval of for the creation of a joint venture with Canal+. We’ve seen less surprising developments.

The joint venture will see the creation of a content proposition with Vivendi’s pay-TV unit Canal+, which the pair claim will speed up the development of fibre connectivity. What this offering will actually look like and how it will help fibre developments specifically remain to be seen, but it is perhaps another slight indication of Vivendi’s influence at TIM.

“With this transaction, TIM is taking an important step forward in the strategy of convergence between telecommunications and media”, said TIM CEO, Amos Genish. “The joint venture with Canal+ will in fact allow us to seize new opportunities for growth in a market undergoing continuous evolution through a commercial offer of fibre connectivity combined with premium video content.”

While the Vivendi stake remains at 24%, the business does seem to be wielding a considerable amount of influence. We’re not necessarily saying heading down the content route is a bad idea, though the strategy does seem to have more of a French flavour than an Italian one. Vivendi CEO and TIM Chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine certainly is one of the more ambitious businessmen in the content world, and this drive seems to be rubbing off on TIM.

The Board of Directors for the joint venture will be made up of five, with TIM appointing three and Vivendi two, with the CEO being selected from one of the TIM-appointed directors. For those who would argue TIM is more than a de Puyfontaine puppet, this is an encouraging split, but when you factor in the fact 10 of the 15 TIM Board Members are Vivendi nominees, the slant does seem to tip more towards France once again.

The Italian government has finally decided to get involved in the situation as of last week, but whether the saga has become too complicated to get a firm handle on remains to be seen. This is certainly an additional development which Rome will have to factor into an already complex equation.

Huawei plays the FOMO card with All-Intelligent Network

Huawei is cashing in on the intelligence buzz with the launch of its All-Intelligent Network.

The new offering itself was announced at the Ultra-Broadband Forum 2017, and is being marketed on three simple features; intelligent, simple, and superfast – not exactly reinventing the wheel.

“In the physical world, intelligent transportation can address uncertainties in the transport network, such as traffic jams and other inefficiencies,” said David Wang, President of Products & Solutions at Huawei.

“Likewise, the uncertainties of the digital world also need to be addressed through intelligence. Intelligence arises from simplicity, and simplicity accelerates the integration of intelligence into networks.”

Marketing strategies are generally build on one of two emotions; greed or fear. With greed, marketers will promise you the world, and with fear, they promise you the end. Here, Huawei is focusing on the latter. The intelligent and connected world is coming, but most operators lack the agile operation systems which are needed to take advantage of the opportunities. Good use of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) card.

But not to worry, Huawei knows how to make you intelligent. The process here is relatively simple on the surface. Automatic to adaptive to autonomous; three baby steps to manage the transition to intelligence.

Automatic means the ability to automatically provision services and automate network deployment and maintenance. Adaptive is built on intelligent analysers on top of automation, to collect real-time network data and perceive network status. Here the network is able to generate and optimize policies based on service and network SLAs. Finally, Autonomous is the enhancement of analysers by introducing AI and machine learning algorithms to enable network self-learning.

This sounds like a sensible message for the Huawei team to convey, which, if we are being honest, if not common practice for vendors. Instead of promising the silver bullet to solve all of the operators problems, the Huawei team are presenting a logical transition, which will take time, but most things worth doing actually do.

How this approach will be received remains to be seen. This step change to intelligence is unlikely to be what the operators want to hear; it will be a longer process, and will probably cost more than what they want to pay. As we have seen in many counties around the world, there are few operators who have the foresight to play the patient long-game.

How many have invested in faster copper alternatives as opposed to biting the fibre bullet? Fibre certainly cost more in the short-term, but when you look at the money spent on ADSL and G.Fast technologies (which some point out are only a temporary solution), the pain of forking out for fibre has only been delayed. Surely this will only result in the total amount of CAPEX being higher?

This is only one example, but there will undoubtedly be others. For once, we have a logical claim from a vendor, which doesn’t seem to over promise, but whether this is received by the operators remains to be seen.

Qualcomm dominates smartphone applications processor market

The latest smartphone component data from Strategy Analytics reveals that, despite its legal challenges, Qualcomm remains dominant in the smartphone chip market.

Applications processors are essentially the CPUs of a smartphone and are represented at Qualcomm by the Snapdragon brand. Qualcomm’s main competitor in this area is Chinese chip maker Mediatek, but after a strong year for the latter in 2016, Qualcomm seems to be pulling away again.

“After a successful 2016, Qualcomm continued its momentum and gained market share with the help of a strengthened portfolio across the board from flagship to mid-range,” said Sravan Kundojjala of SA. “After missing the initial 14 nm FinFET AP wave, Qualcomm made sure it is one of the first companies with a commercial 10 nm smartphone AP.

“Qualcomm’s semi-custom 10 nm flagship 64-bit AP Snapdragon 835, which integrates a gigabit-class LTE modem, has seen greater success than its predecessor Snapdragon 820 / 821. Strategy Analytics believes that Qualcomm is poised for further share gains through 2017 with its strengthened Snapdragon 600-series of APs.”

“MediaTek hit a rough patch in 1H 2017, after registering a robust growth in 2016,” said SA’s Stuart Robinson. “MediaTek’s weak portfolio coupled with increased competition from Qualcomm contributed to its share losses in 1H 2017. MediaTek’s flagship Helio X series has not seen much success so far while the mid-range Helio P series of chips performed strongly.

“Understandably, MediaTek is set to de-emphasis Helio X in favor of Helio P to optimize its investment and to recover market share in 2H 2017. Strategy Analytics believes that MediaTek’s recovery will take time as its modem technology is still generations behind market leader Qualcomm.”

Here’s the SA market 1H 2017 applications processor chart. Apple makes its own APs, as many other vendors like Samsung and Huawei often do too, so Qualcomm has done well to keep such a lead. The legal disputes faced by Qualcomm are largely focused more on its modems, but the AP side of things could still be adversely affected if thing go against it.

SA AP chart

MIGU Joins Forces With Huawei to Roll Out New Apps on Huawei’s Container Cloud Engine

SHENZHEN, China — During Huawei Connect 2017 that was just concluded, MIGU, a subsidiary of China Mobile, joint with Huawei held the ceremony to announce that MIGU Interactive Entertainment business has been deployed on Huawei’s Container Cloud Engine, which means that Huawei’s innovative cloud technology has been applied to Internet-enabled services for carriers.

MIGU Interactive Entertainment uses SDK platform to process all user authentications, front-end billing, and advertisement pushes for its apps. This core platform covers 200 million mobile subscribers and can handle 25,000 concurrent requests per second (daily average of 800 million requests).

Huawei’s end-to-end solution places everything in one container, including the OS, engines, storage, network, orchestration, and all other utilities needed to form a full stack. In containers, even the smallest of granularities are given full play and the modules can be started up or shut down within seconds to save energy when loads are low and deliver immediate support when workloads surge. The impressive scale-out and scale-down capabilities help MIGU achieve a six-fold improvement in resource utilization. Software upgrades that once took two hours are now completed in as little as five minutes. A streamlined CI/CD process reduces the iteration cycle from two weeks down to several hours.

Huawei Container Cloud Engine provides comprehensive management capabilities over the entire application life cycle, supporting horizontal scalability for hot applications, quick environment builds, and rolling application upgrades. Orchestration of mixed resources, governance over micro-services, DevOps, and a long list of enhanced functions further improve the IT management and control capabilities and help keep China Mobile at the front of the pack in the ISP/gaming industry. The Huawei solution enables quick response to the fast-changing marketplace with a platform ready to support the in-the-moment demands of subscribers.

 Gong Yuqing, Director of the Huawei Carrier Data Center MKT Dept, had the following to say, “Huawei is continuing to pour more resources into developing leading technical innovations for carriers to apply to their commercial operations with monetization success. We are looking forward to working with MIGU Interactive Entertainment and other customers in expanding business with forward-looking, viable platforms like container-based PaaS and micro-service offerings featuring greater agility, convenience, and technical capability.”

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd


UK operators accused of ripping off loyal punters at the end of bundle deals

The UK Citizen’s Advice service has advised that UK citizens are getting rinsed by their operators when they come to the end of subsidised phone contracts.

One of the major reasons we sign up to two-year contracts is that we want a shiny new smartphone but haven’t got the cash to pay for one up-front. For decades operators have looked to entice customers by effectively offering to finance the purchase of said smartphone in return for a post-paid contract commitment. The total cost of ownership is invariably greater than buying the handset yourself and then going SIM-only, but that’s a price many are willing to pay.

But according to Citizen’s Advice, unless they specifically ask for a new contract, customers of Vodafone, EE and Three continue to be charged at the same rate even after their lock-in period has expired. In other words, even after they’ve paid the phone off they continue to be charged as if they hadn’t.

“Some of the largest mobile phone providers are routinely overcharging their loyal customers,” said Gillian Guy, Chief Exec of Citizens Advice. “Mobile phones are now an essential part of modern life, but the way that the cost of handsets are hidden within some mobile phone contracts gives phone providers a way to exploit their customers.

“It is clearly unfair that some phone providers are charging loyal customers for handsets that they have already paid for. It’s especially concerning that older customers are more likely to be stung by this sharp practice.

“Phone providers must now make sure that any customers staying in a contract past the end of a fixed deal have their monthly bill reduced to reflect the cost of the handset. Providers could make it much easier for consumers to compare prices by separating out the cost of handsets from the cost of services like data and minutes for all contracts, that way it would be much clearer what they’re paying for.”

To be fair to operators our experience is that they usually get in touch towards the end of a contract to dangle further smartphone carrots in a bit to get you to sell your soul for another couple of years. But if they don’t then Citizen’s Advice is right to say there should be an automatic reduction in the bill. That process is presumably so straightforward that it’s hard to give those operators that don’t do it the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s a summary of the findings. Citizen’s Advice offered no explanation of why O2 and the MNVOs weren’t apparently scrutinised. Perhaps they got bored and figured they’d made their point anyway.

Citizens advice operator table

Huawei launches the first 5G antenna deployment solution

Huawei has partnered with Telefonica to launch what it claims to be the world’s first 5G-oriented antenna deployment solution.

The company’s 5G antenna deployment solution was announced in Munich during the 2017 Global Antenna Technology & Industry Forum and directly follows the launch of the company’s latest flagship smartphone with dedicated AI.

Huawei’s solution will help to overcome the challenge of insufficient antenna space when deploying high-band 4T4R over Sub 3 GHz and Massive MIMO. The present difficulty has emerged as operators begin transitioning from 4G to 4.5G/5G technologies.

"Based on many years of technical accumulation in wireless networks and an in-depth understanding of MBB network, Huawei cooperates with Telefónica Deutschland to release the world's first 5G-oriented antenna deployment solution,” says Mr. Joyee Zhang, President of Huawei Wireless Network Antenna Business Unit.

“This innovative solution can help operators to overcome the obstacles of 5G network deployment and potentially further help to achieve new business success."

4T4R has emerged as a mainstream configuration as 700MHz, 1400MHz and other spectrums are distributed. Standard overlay cannot meet deployment requirements, Huawei claims, especially when operators must also reserve antenna space for Massive Mimo to implement a smooth evolution.

Huawei and Telefonica’s 5G antenna deployment solution incorporates both a 14-port multi-band antenna and a TDD 3.5 GHz Massive MIMO antenna to meet Telefónica's requirements for an easy network evolution towards 5G. It supports 4T4R in all bands, including L band, within a width of just 469mm.

“We believe that during the future-oriented network evolution of MBB, antenna installation space severely hinders the progress of network deployment,” explains Mr. Jaime Lluch, Radio Access Network Director of Telefónica Deutschland.

“Telefónica and Huawei's 5G-oriented antenna deployment solution can address the challenge of insufficient space, while ensuring excellent network performance and capacity.”

Are you impressed by Huawei’s 5G antenna deployment solution? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Intel is the latest to jump on the Amazon Alexa bandwagon

As Amazon continues to make the early running in the voice UI era with Alexa, Intel has created a special developer kit for it.

The Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit is designed to enable developers to create consumer products featuring Alexa Voice Service. The reason a chip giant like Intel wants to be involved, other than merely jumping on the bandwagon, is that for voice UI to work well it not only needs decent processing but also a bunch of other sensors and distributed microphones.

“Natural language means machines need to clearly recognize and respond to user commands from a reasonable conversation distance,” said Miles Kingston, GM of Intel’s Smart Home Group, in a blog. “People speak and hear in 360 degrees, not just in a direct line of sight. Devices need array microphones and complex noise mitigation technology.

“A quality voice interaction means devices identify the speaker’s location, mitigate and suppress ambient noise, and understand spoken commands on the mics, even while playing music (talking and listening at the same time), as well as waking up when it hears the wake word (e.g. “Alexa”).”

Amazon seems to be doing a good job of partnering with other parts of the tech sector to boost its diversification efforts. Alexa is attracting both device and component makers, as well as retail partners, while AWS is showing a growing inclination to get into bed with strategic partners. In short Amazon is arguably the fastest growing of the internet giants right now.