Huawei & China Mobile Propose First Cloud-Based BNG Interface Protocol

SHENZHEN, China — Huawei and the China Mobile Research Institute have submitted a standards proposal to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for the first cloud-based Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) interface protocol requirements. The proposed Control Plane and User Plane Separated Protocol (CUSP) requirements for cloud-based BNG interfaces were delivered at the 100th meeting of the IETF, the international organization responsible for developing Internet standards. The proposal marks an important step towards standardization of CU-separated BNG architecture.

The standardization of interfaces between the control and user planes must be achieved before large-scale commercial deployment of cloud-based BNG architecture can be achieved. The CUSP draft defines protocol requirements for information delivery, reliability, and security mechanisms needed for communication between the control and user planes in cloud-based BNG architecture with separated control and user planes. It is the industry’s first dynamic control plane protocol proposed for BNGs.

At the meeting, Huawei, together with China Mobile, presented the CUSP draft and information model for interaction between the control and user planes. The proposals were well received and inspired discussions on the dynamic control plane concept and methods to separate the control and user planes. Huawei and China Mobile will continue to promote the standardization of these proposals in the IETF Routing Area Working Group (RTGWG).

It is always necessary to pool the efforts of industry chain partners to promote the formulation of standards. To address the challenges faced by legacy fixed broadband services, that is, low resource utilization, complex management and maintenance, and slow service provisioning. China Mobile and other operators have proposed innovative CU-separated BNG architecture and are actively promoting its standardization through joint innovation.

“The CU-separated BNG architecture allows network resource pooling to improve resource utilization and enables centralized virtual control plane to accelerate service efficiency and shorten new service provisioning time,” said Hu Shujun, an expert at the China Mobile Research Institute. “These are the business values brought by the architecture. The standards proposal submitted at the meeting was well received by industry experts, and the interface protocol and information model for interaction between the control and user planes will drive the new architecture to mature and become applicable. On the way to standardization of this architecture, we are open to new thoughts and welcome conversations with more industry experts to accelerate this process.”

Huawei has also speeded up development of the cloud-based BNG solution design based on the CU-separated BNG architecture. In March 2017, Huawei worked with the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC), an internationally recognized independent test center, to complete the industry’s first function and performance tests on broadband access for one million home subscribers. In June, Huawei and China Mobile Shaanxi successfully carried out the world’s first commercial trial of the CU-separated BNG architecture on a live network.

Looking to the future, Huawei will work closely with operators around the world and continuously innovate in CU-separated BNG architecture standards to promote cloud standards formulation for all cloud transformation of metro networks. This will unleash the potential of metro network and ultimately help carriers achieve digital transformation and business success.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL)

Huawei CloudFabric Solution Assists China Mobile’s MIGU

Huawei announced that its CloudFabric Solution succeeded in helping China Mobile’s MIGU construct elastic, intelligent, and accurate converged data center (DC) IT resource pools, which are to be put into commercial use imminently.

As the only subsidiary of China Mobile that runs audio and video services, MIGU is responsible for platform construction, service operation, content cooperation, and new product development of audio and video services. The continuous service expansion poses the following challenges to data center networks that use traditional solutions:

  • Resource pooling: The number of servers required by a single DC increases from several hundred to tens of thousands. In addition, intra-DC and inter-DC converged IT resource pools need to be constructed.
  • Automatic deployment: Rapidly emerging new services need to be provisioned on data center networks in minutes.
  • Refined O&M: On traditional data center networks, statistics and analysis are coarse-grained and non-real-time. This means the quality of connections cannot be presented in real time. Huawei provides the software-defined networking (SDN)-based CloudFabric Solution that easily meets service requirements of MIGU through the following features:
    • Resource pooling is implemented on data center networks to achieve cost-effective construction of large Layer 2 networks, as well as intra-DC and inter-DC smooth VM migration and capacity expansion.
    • Huawei’s application-driven Agile Controller is leveraged for automated provisioning of services, with the duration shortened from weeks to minutes.

In addition, Huawei CloudFabric Solution provides the following capabilities for the end-to-end planning, deployment, and O&M of cloud data center networks:

  • SDN-based graphical network planning and design: provides graphical tools for network planning and design, a guide for network service changes and emergency troubleshooting, and assistance in network redundancy and disaster recovery design, facilitating more efficient and accurate network planning and design.
  • Automatic network deployment: provides unified installation and deployment tools for cloud data center networks to automatically deploy cloud platforms, SDN controllers, and various network devices, shortening the deployment time of cloud data center networks from more than one day to just one hour.
  • Real-time and accurate network status monitoring: supports visibility of the application, logical, and physical network topologies, and real-time port status and microburst congestion management. 80% faults can be located within 15 minutes.
  • Big data-based log, alarm, and traffic analysis: provides a big data-based platform for analyzing logs, alarms, and traffic, implementing network connection quality and traffic statistics and analysis.

“The commercial use of Huawei CloudFabric Solution at MIGU is a milestone in the joint innovation between MIGU and Huawei,” said Yu Li, General Manager of Huawei Data Center Network Domain. “In the future, Huawei and MIGU will strengthen cooperation and construct future-oriented cloud data center networks to promote the exploration of new services.”

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL)

Ericsson heralds Verizon 5G kit win

Ericsson will be one of Verizon’s kit partners when it first dips its toe in the 5G water next year, and it wants us to know it.

This is the sort of thing telecoms marketing departments have erotic dreams about. For years companies like Ericsson have been shoe-horning ‘5G’ into their press releases with often questionable justification. Now we’re on the cusp of some real, live 5G and Ericsson can legitimately lay claim to a piece of it. The only surprise is that it hasn’t conducted a ticker-tape parade in an open-top bus through central Stockholm.

Maybe this is because CEO Ekholm saw fit to remind his euphoric marketing team that this isn’t really 5G in a substantial sense. Verizon is calling it fixed 5G and it’s basically good, old fixed wireless access, but using the 28 GHz spectrum and some early 5G technology to deliver higher data throughputs. What it isn’t is mobile 5G delivered to smartphones, which we’re still at least a couple of years away from seeing.

But let’s not rain on Ericsson’s parade too much. It has been a tough few years for the vendor as it tries to find things CSPs might actually pay for. So while this is just a very small, early increment of 5G there is symbolic significance in scoring one of the first kit deals that can legitimately be labelled 5G.

“5G will change the way we work, interact, learn and play,” said Ed Chan, SVP Technology Strategy and Planning for Corporate Networking and Technology at Verizon. “Through our work with Ericsson, we are creating a clear roadmap and building a robust ecosystem that will enable us to maximize the potential of 5G.”

“Our pioneering work with 5G will make US consumers and businesses among the first in the world to benefit from the transformative services of the new technology,” said Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “It further illustrates how our global 5G portfolio, designed to support 5G NR as standardized in 3GPP, enables first movers in the early commercialization of 5G networks.”

It’s amusing that Ericsson recruited Chan, rather than its former CEO Hans Vestberg, for the Verizon canned quote in the press release, despite Vestberg being the head of Verizon’s network business unit and his prominence in the original Verizon announcement. However Vestberg clearly bears no ill will towards his former company and Ericsson will have its fingers crossed for a reversal of its fortunes in the US.

Have you heard? Apple is buying Shazam

US gadget giant Apple has made a rare foray into major M&A with the acquisition of UK audio recognition app Shazam.

Despite having enough money to buy the entire world and still leave a generous tip, Apple is notoriously reluctant to get its cheque book out. One exception to this is the music business, which was after all the source of Apple’s renaissance thanks with the iPod and iTunes, and which saw Apple fork out $3 billion for Beats a few years ago.

Shazam has been around forever by app standards and was one of the first bits of cleverness to appear on a smartphone. It uses the phone’s microphone to listen to pieces of audio and then tells you what they are. When it first came out it was easy to believe it might represent the future of music discovery until everyone realised that it’s very rare to hear a piece of music that a) you like, b) you can’t identify and c) is not being introduced by another person.

But Apple, in its infinite wisdom, sees beyond such trivia and can apparently see great things for Shazam. Music streaming services, a market in which Apple is a minor player but would sincerely like to be a bigger one, do apparently receive a significant amount of traffic from Shazam. It would be entirely in keeping with its closed ecosystem philosophy for Apple to buy Shazam and then stop it referring to any streaming services other than its own.

This story was leaked last week and, while Apple hasn’t issued a formal press release, it has issued the following statement to lots of media. It also hasn’t confirmed a sale price but this is being widely speculated to be in the region of $400 million, significantly lower than the company had previously been valued at.

“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms. Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Another possible motivation for this move could be defensive manoeuvres. It has been reported that both Spotify and Snapchat had been sniffing around Shazam and maybe Apple just didn’t like the idea of anyone else having it. The recent news about Spotify getting into bed with Tencent indicates the internet music space is heating up once more.

Here are the most Shazamed tracks this year – look at the state of it:

Ed Sheeran – “Shape Of You”

Luis Fonsi Feat. Daddy Yankee – “Despacito”

Clean Bandit Feat. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – “Rockabye”

Charlie Puth – “Attention”

The Weeknd Feat. Daft Punk – “I Feel It Coming”

J Balvin & Willy William – “Mi Gente”

Kygo & Selena Gomez – “It Ain’t Me”

The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This”

Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times”

Burak Yeter Feat. Danelle Sandoval – “Tuesday”

Ofenbach – “Be Mine”

Calvin Harris Feat. Pharrell Williams & Katy Perry & Big Sean – “Feels”

Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still”

Imagine Dragons – “Believer”

Kaleo – “Way Down We Go”

5G Americas argues how LTE progress is leading to the ‘Massive Internet of Things’

A new whitepaper by 5G Americas outlines how the 5G Massive Internet of Things (MIoT) market is projected to be a major business driver of the telecom industry.

The whitepaper, titled “LTE Progress Leading to the 5G Massive Internet of Things”, has provided an overview of the technological advancements that will support the expanding IoT, connected cars and wearables markets. The term Massive IoT (MIoT) has been recently created by the telecom industry to refer to the connection for potentially large number of devices and machines that will call for further definition in the standards for LTE and later for 5G.

Jean Au, staff manager, technical marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, and co-leader of the whitepaper said: “Some cellular service providers in the U.S. are already adding more IoT connections than mobile phone connections, and the efforts at 3GPP in defining standards for the successful deployment of a wide variety of services across multiple industries will contribute to the growing success for consumers and the enterprise.”

At present, low-power wide-area (LPWA) is already gaining popularity and it is expected that cellular-based technologies including LTE-M (Machine) and Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) will emerge as the foremost standards for LPWA by 2020. Operators will have the option to choose from several Cellular IoT (CIoT) technologies depending on their spectrum portfolio, legacy networks and requirements of the services they offer.

Vicki Livingston, head of communications, 5G Americas, said: “There will be a wide range of IoT use cases in the future, and the market is now expanding toward both Massive IoT deployment as well as more advanced solutions that may be categorized as Critical IoT.”

You can read the full report here (pdf).

Verizon spends billions on NFL rights to give Oath a boost

US telco Verizon has announced a new deal with the NFL – i.e. American Football league – to distribute games across its digital media network.

This appears to be an attempt to answer the oft-asked question: “What’s the point of dropping billions of dollars on a couple of internet dinosaurs?” Verizon, in its infinite wisdom, has focused its diversification efforts on the acquisition of AOL and Yahoo, which were kind of a big deal 20 years ago. It decided to call the digital media formed from them Oath earlier this year and has now decided to give it an injection of premium content.

“We’re making a commitment to fans for Verizon’s family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports,” said Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon. “The NFL is a great partner for us and we are excited to take its premier content across a massive mobile scale so viewers can enjoy live football and other original NFL content where and how they want it. We believe that partnerships like this are a win for fans, but also for partners and advertisers looking for a mobile-first experience.”

“Verizon has been a key NFL partner, both in the distribution of games on NFL mobile and as a sponsor, since 2010 and we’re thrilled to be both extending and expanding our relationship with them,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our expanded partnership with Verizon is great for our fans.  Starting with the upcoming playoffs and for seasons to come, live NFL action directly on your mobile device – regardless of carrier – will give millions of fans additional ways to follow their favourite sport.”

As the quotes above touch upon, this deal marks the end of Verizon’s exclusivity, but it will now be able to offer the games to anyone via Yahoo sports and that sort of thing. They haven’t announced the numbers but reports have it between $1.5-2 billion for a five-year deal. At a time when the ROI of telco spending on premium content in coming under question this deal marks a distinct doubling down by Verizon.

Five mandatory technologies that every telecoms company needs to grow

Today, telecommunications companies are forced to reckon with the changes that have taken place in the market: the emergence of new competitors; competition with wireless networks; VoIP; cable companies; IPTV; the influence of the Internet and OTT, and so forth. In response, network operators accelerated the transition to digital formats based on IP technologies, low latency, better standardisation and now even on virtualisation of network functions (NFV). So it’s time to drop paleontological prejudices.

What’s more, the modern level of competition put an end to the era of the ‘this is not invented by us’ principle, when operators define the technologies used. Any transmitting company that wants to continue to use only its own technologies risks lagging far behind its competitors.

There are many powerful incentives for companies to use the latest and best of their kind of solutions. Telecoms providers have to build, buy, or use on a partnership basis, technological improvements or solutions for subscribers, and these actions created a market worth $5.6 trillion.

This figure suggests that the solutions telecom companies need are really worth it.

So what are the five most important spheres; the gaps in which telecommunications companies, in their opinion, should be filled by their partnership with the creators of technologies and solutions? The Silicon Valley Telecommunications Council conducted a survey of a dozen network operators asking them one general question: what technologies, innovations and partnerships would you like to receive from development companies in the next few years?

And although this year there was no congress of operators, preliminary reports of telecoms companies say that they are waiting for innovative solutions in several areas.

Increase of ‘cloudy’

Cloud technology has already become a huge business for many companies, and telecoms firms play an important role in the development of cloud services, data centres and regular communications.

Today, operators want to build more hybrid clouds where businesses can mix private and public cloud services; a social Internet of Things scenario. Firewalls and security solutions are also important. Any ideas related to improving the performance of data centres and saving energy are also welcome.

XaaS

Remote infrastructure has developed over the past decade, moving along the stack of the OSI network model. Originating as a simple rental of seats in peer to peer counters, it reached the level of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), when users could rent virtual machines while managing their operating systems, software, and file storage. The IaaS system was truly revolutionary and companies like Amazon Web Services LLC revolutionised pricing, being startups.

The next stage was platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). Thanks to SaaS, users get a complete software solution, accessible from any computer with a simple browser or mobile application. This innovative solution sweeps billions of box office sales, and is where we are today.

However, telecommunications companies are now turning their eyes towards XaaS, or anything as a service. In other words, it can be communication-aaS, network-aaS, disaster recovery-aaS, healthcare-aaS… you get the idea. Telecommunications companies see themselves as natural sellers of various XaaS solutions and are looking for partners who could build them all on a turnkey basis.

Virtualisation

IT departments of various companies use virtualisation to reduce costs, increasing reliability and flexibility in their corporate networks. Today, telecommunications companies take on these great ideas and virtualise their telecommunications networks. Solutions that were previously offered in the form of standalone, dedicated specialised functional boxes from Tier 1 manufacturers today moved to virtual machines, implemented as programs on more powerful hardware.

NFV, or virtualisation of network functions, will allow operators to obtain greater flexibility and weaken the binding to one supplier, giving a greater opportunity to experiment with new services and more quickly determine their profitability. Costs are reduced, in terms of finances, time, and risks. The end result with be the expansion of cooperation between many suppliers and related industries, large and small.

Virtualisation also gives operators the flexibility necessary to negotiate partnership agreements in the implementation of best-of-breed solutions, as well as the ability to quickly launch these solutions. They are not dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are not virtual – although that said, we saw a couple of virtual dinosaurs using VR glasses – however, these were certainly not communication operators.

The software-configurable network (SDN) is a later stage in the development of NFV. SDN allows operators of telecommunications companies to manage their virtual networks programmatically, so the network responds to real-time requests, connecting additional VNF machines in response to surges in the consumption of network resources and for other functions, or geographically – for example to provide the flow of messaging services during a football match, or exchanging messages during street protests, or managing emergency response scenarios.

4G and 5G

Telecoms companies are keenly interested in knowing the possibilities of the forthcoming 5G standards, and also making sure that their future needs – in other words, SDN – are inscribed in the body of standards. This gives rise to a number of difficulties, since even a solid SDN concept has not yet been worked out, and NFV is only taking its first steps in commercial applications.

At the same time, wireless network operators are concerned not only about technologies that give 4.5G solutions, such as IoT availability, low-power radio communication, low latency, MIMO, CA, LTE-U, VoLTE, and so forth. Companies are more interested in what new money-making opportunities these new functions can bring to them, and what OTT will pry from it first. The question of the telecom operator here is: how can we make money by investing in the development of 4.5G networks?’ Companies that can answer this question should expect a warm welcome.

Internet of Things

Not so long ago, the countries of Europe and Asia reached 100% coverage of their territories by mobile communication. However, these figures do not mean a limit. After people are connected, it’s time to connect their belongings.

There are a number of problems with the Internet of Things (IoT) – device type, battery life, signal strength, networks, device management, OSS/BSS, business models and so on – but at the same time there are also ample opportunities for businessmen who have answers to the requests of telecommunication companies. Telecoms need assistance in connecting cars, equipment and sensors to a full-scale system.

Telecommunications companies today are extraordinarily clever. Perhaps you will not call their work quick and pleasant, but let’s recognise that these companies control huge amounts of money and significantly improve the wellbeing and opportunities for partnership with small firms. The need for this continues. For businesses and manufacturers today, the question arises of the advisability of cooperation with a small firm. Everything depends on you – but it will be much better if you focus your attention on one of the five ‘white spots’ in technology today outlined above.

Nokia COO calls it a day after only eight months in the job

Monika Maurer, who was only promoted to the Chief Operating Officer role at Nokia last April, has apparently decided she doesn’t like what she’s seen at the top table.

People don’t leave so soon after joining the Group Leadership Team unless something is amiss. Nokia, inevitably, is sticking to only the most tested and anodyne statements in relation to this development, which sees former SVP of Nokia Transformation, Joerg Erlemeir, given the COO role with immediate effect.

“I want to thank Monika for her contributions to Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent before that,” said Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. “I warmly welcome Joerg to the GLT, and look forward to working together to further strengthen our disciplined operating model.”

While Nokia hasn’t had quite the turmoil at the top experienced by its rival Ericsson, this isn’t exactly a great endorsement of its senior management. Maurer was appointed during the cabinet reshuffle that saw the COO role restored after Marc Rouanne took over leadership of the Mobile Networks business unit, following the departure of Samih Elhage, who still hasn’t got another full-time job.

Erlemeir is a Nokia lifer, while Maurer was an Alcatel-Lucent lifer (see CV below). Nokia has done a good job of seeming to incorporate A-Lu relatively smoothly but we can’t escape the impression that, with the exception of the fixed-line business units, the Nokia GLT is increasingly comprised of Nokia lifers.

Maurer CV

Elhage had only been at Nokia since 2012 and while Erlemeir goes straight to the top row of the Nokia GLT page Marcus Weldon, CTO, President of Bell Labs, and easily the most effective external communicator in the team, comes last. Weldon was an A-Lu lifer. Just as at Ericsson, the Nokia CEO now seems to be surrounded by his mates, so it’s time to make the magic happen.

Ericsson and Singtel claim APAC LAA record

Ericsson and long-time operator partner Singtel have announced they managed to hit 1.1 Gbps in a joint trial of a new LAA configuration.

License Assisted Access is all about increasing the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband by using chunks of unlicensed spectrum too. This test, conducted in a Singtel lab, used 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and any other LTE goodies they could throw into the mix, to aggregate two licensed and three unlicensed spectrum bands. The result was apparently an APAC first.

“We are very encouraged by this breakthrough in peak speeds,” said Mark Chong, Singtel’s Group CTO. “In Singapore, a large percentage of mobile traffic is generated indoors with more mobile customers browsing the web, streaming video and accessing cloud applications on the go. We are now in a position to deploy LAA technology to boost our LTE mobile capacity to meet increasing traffic demand. This will allow us to deliver a faster and more reliable mobile connectivity experience even during peak periods.”

“Licensed Assisted Access took wireless technology to a whole new level, delivering the increased capacity and faster speeds that operators demand as they evolve their networks,” said Martin Wiktorin, Head for Ericsson Singapore, Brunei & the Philippines. “This trial is a significant milestone in the use of LAA, pushing the limits of Gigabit LTE in a unique configuration of advanced technologies.”

Earlier this year Singtel and Ericsson announced the opening of Singapore’s first 5G center of excellence, a symptom of the two companies’ enduring chumminess. As a technologically advanced city state Singapore is quite a handy place to try out new wireless technologies, especially when it comes to capacity as opposed to coverage.

Spotify looks east with Tencent umbilicus

Music streaming service Spotify has made a clear statement of geographical intent by entering into an equity swap with Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Specifically Spotify is doing business with Tencent Music Entertainment and in its announcement it referred to the two companies as ‘the two most popular music streaming platforms in the world.’ TME runs QQMusic and KuGou, which apparently have a combined monthly user base of 450 million users. The last time Spotify revealed its user numbers they stood at 140 million, with 60 million subscribers, but it has global reach.

The companies have announced they will acquire shares in each other but the only details offered is that they will amount to minority stakes. So somewhere between 0.000000000001% and 49.9999999999999%. Tencent is also going to buy another tranche of Spotify shares just because it can.

“Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment see significant opportunities in the global music streaming market for all our users, artists, music and business partners,” said Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder of Spotify. “This transaction will allow both companies to benefit from the global growth of music streaming.”

“We are excited to embark on this partnership with the largest music streaming platform in the world,” said Cussion Pang, CEO of TME. “TME and Spotify will work together to explore collaboration opportunities, with a common objective to foster a vibrant music ecosystem that benefits users, artists and content owners.”

“We are delighted to facilitate this strategic collaboration between the two largest digital music platforms in the world,” said Martin Lau, Tencent President. “Both of us share the same commitment to bringing music and superior entertainment experiences to music lovers, and to expanding the global digital music market for artists and content partners.”

Spotify is expected to have its IPO next year and being so intimately joined to such a big, cash rich company will probably reassure prospective investors about its long-term future. Furthermore, since that future will chiefly involve direct competition with US tech giants such as Apple and Google, this marks an intriguing moment in the balance of economic power between east and west.