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Nokia Edge Cloud, Vodafone-Liberty Global, Apple Streaming, Nielwatch: Telco 2.0 News Review

Nokia launches cloud servers for 5G; North America at 44% 4G; Telenor to drop 3G early; all-digital radio

Well, what have we here? Nokia Networks has launched a new product line, Airframe, consisting of Intel-based servers optimised for cloud services and specifically for the emerging Mobile Edge Computing space. This would roll cloud and hosting servers right into the fabric of 5G networks, bringing them close to the radio air interface to take advantage of the low latency targets. We knew since MWC that Nokia is very, very keen on this, and now here’s some backing with actual money. Here’s an interesting quote:

So you end up with a mix of distributed small datacenters and larger central ones as our model of how networks will evolve going forward

The release is here. Later this week, we’ll be publishing a new Executive Briefing in our Future of the Network stream that addresses the impact of 5G on the cloud and the data centre, so watch this space.

One of the points we cover is that the Nokia-Alcatel deal should be seen as positioning for a 5G cloud disruption, and as part of a Europe-wide industrial strategy - for good or ill. This week, a key committee within ALU signed off on the merger.

Elsewhere, here’s some speculation that Ericsson might respond by making a bid for Juniper Networks, giving it much more presence in IP routers and in North America. Then again, remember that time Ericsson bought an IP router company? Yup. The Redback acquisition wasn’t exactly transformative. Alternatives suggested are Ciena or maybe the Samsung networks division.

Here’s detail of the new Cisco management team.

Caroline Gabriel checkpoints the 5G standardisation process going into a key meeting of the ITU working group. It looks like two forces are at work - a drive to add more features and stretch the technical specifications, and a demand for more speed and delivery in 2017-2018, which don’t sound like they go well together.

Is 5G is a future European industrial strategy? We hope so, because Europe seems to be lagging these days - 4G Americas reports that 44 per cent of North American wireless subscribers are on LTE, compared to 16 per cent in Western Europe.

In Norway, though, Telenor is proud that it’s on track to finish deploying 4G into the far North by the end of 2016, having covered 42 out of 87 municipalities already. In part because of this, it wants to close down its 3G network soon, well before the 2G goes. The 2G has to stay both to support their M2M customers, and for the sake of 2G/4G interworking in the 1800MHz band.

The WiFi Forward coalition is lobbying US senators to get more 5GHz spectrum released for WiFi usage, specifically the 5.9GHz band. The text of the letter is here. Time Warner Cable has just turned up some more public WiFi networks, and signed a roaming agreement with Boingo, for a total of 400,000 hotspots available to their customers.

And Cambridge Consultants have demonstrated the first purely digital software radio.

Google: don’t aim for 100% uptime; OpenNFV ships; 10 million unused servers

Google’s SVP of technical infrastructure, Urs “The Data Centre as a Computer” Hölzle, speaks to Information Week about SDN, their software-defined wide area network, and why you shouldn’t try to achieve 100% uptime. Worth reading!

The OPNFV project has shipped code, specifically version 1.0 or “Arno” of its open-source NFV platform. That includes OpenDaylight, OpenStack, and Open vSwitch support, plus integration with a whole menagerie of developer tools. You can grab the code here.

A study suggests that the world’s data centres contain 10 million unused servers, $30bn worth of hardware.

Amazon Web Services, of course, is dedicated to the proposition that you could get rid of those and move to the cloud. They have a detailed blog post here arguing that moving to AWS is environmentally advisable, not least because their customers “consume fewer servers”. The only problem, of course, is that they also server who only stand and wait; reserved surge capacity is valuable, which is why people pay for it.

AWS’s James Hamilton reviews a paper on the performance of Flash SSDs in a megacloud infrastructure.

And this looks like an interesting project: the UK Government’s Science & Technology Facilities Council is getting a new supercomputer facility, based on IBM’s OpenPOWER chips, to run its Watson AI.

Vodafone-Liberty swap rumours; Altice x FiOS; Comcast 2Gbps delayed; fibre surge escapes from America

The Vodafone-Liberty Global story is bubbling up. The two companies confirmed that they were involved in talks, but supposedly only about an “asset swap”. One suggestion is that this would involve Vodafone handing over the German operation, including its newly acquired cable assets, and getting Virgin Media in return. That would respond to the BT-EE deal and plant the big red comma right on top of the UK fibre-to-the-cell network, but can Vodafone really be a European mobile operator without any presence in the biggest European economy? There’s some interesting discussion here - German regulators might not accept the implied merger of KDG and Liberty’s UnityMedia cable network, and it might all be a cover story for a real merger between the two operators.

Elsewhere, will Altice make an offer for Verizon’s whole resi wireline business? Apparently it might cost some $34bn. Meanwhile, they’ve appointed bankers to sell Cabovisao and Onitelecom in Portugal, probably to Vodafone.

Comcast’s announcement of 2Gbps service kicked off the US’s sudden race towards fibre, but now it seems the actual delivery is on hold. However, the delay is only until “later this month”; Ars Technica wonders if they are still uncertain how to price the service in the light of the competition hurrying to deploy gigabit speeds.

Interestingly, Centurylink says that since they started deploying 1Gbps fibre, there’s been a spike in demand for their higher speed tiers even where the fibre isn’t available.

The race has spread into Mexico, where America Movil is urgently deploying fibre to get into the game before AT&T launches a service, and Ireland, where Eircom has just added another 300,000 homes to its target, and even South Africa, where DFA is planning to build fibre to 20,000 businesses.

AT&T, meanwhile, says Apple iOS updates are now the biggest capacity events on the network, and they’re increasingly turning to their SDN-based Network on Demand Ethernet system to deal with them (presumably in the context of mobile backhaul). Frontier is doing something similar. But what happened to the 400,000 extra businesses in 30 UK cities that were meant to get fibre from BT?

And Altice’s Patrick Drahi wants to review the fibre-deployment partnership with Orange and go faster.

Niel buys Monaco Telecom; £500 MVNOs; De La Vega on Google Fi; Skype Web; m-payments, IoT news

What’s Xavier Niel up to now? Monaco Telecom is now 55% owned by a company he controls, and he’s just rebranded it and announced a “very marked shift in innovation”, with 70% of the company’s CAPEX going into new projects. Although a very, very small telco, the company has some interesting niche projects - it provides carrier services and the use of its +377 country code to Kosovo, has similar deals with various shipboard and airborne networks, and owns 36% of Roshan in Afghanistan.

An example might be something like Simwood Mobile in the UK. Here’s an interesting post about building the service, which makes the point that the minimum commit for an MVNO is now down to £500/mo in the UK.

AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega is being very careful what he says about Google Fi.

Everyone in the US or UK can now try Skype for Web, after Microsoft opened up the beta further.

NTT, meanwhile, launches Skyway, an SDK for WebRTC applications, while Telefonica and Mozilla have added screen-sharing to Firefox Hello.

De La Vega also had something to say about the failure of Softcard, the US operators’ m-payments joint venture. He thinks payments in general is more appropriate for the maker of the device OS. Verizon, though, turns out to be an investor in SimplyTapp, a company that does host card emulation software for tokenising payments systems. Visa, meanwhile, has started a developer program for its tokens.

Samsung is aiming for 15-20% penetration of their payments app. Retailers are a bit more sceptical about Apple Pay than Apple is.

Experimenting with LoRa and blogging it.

And Ericsson has backed away from its forecast of 50bn connected devices by 2020. They’ve shaded it down a tad - more precisely, they’ve cut it by a factor of two, to 26bn by 2020.

Orange might expand in Europe; horrible row over Israel brand licencing; DISH-T on again? Idea ups 4G pricing; Burma price war, 65% smartphones already

Orange is apparently “contemplating” more acquisitions in Europe, and expects more consolidation in France although it won’t be the first to move.

They also said they were keen to expand in North Africa and the Middle East. This led to trouble. Stéphane Richard said that Orange would ultimately like to get rid of its brand-licensing deal with Partner Communications in Israel, because they don’t own the network or indeed operate there and they would prefer to only use the brand on products they control. However, Richard had already said he would also like to get rid of it because it was politically sensitive and this had only taken so long because Partner might sue.

Immediately, pro-Palestinian campaigners declared victory for their boycott, while pro-Israeli ones demanded Orange must stay (although they weren’t really there in the first place). What a mess.

German WISP Airdata is suing to stop the Telefonica-EPlus merger.

Günther Oettinger has called a meeting of EU telecoms ministers and operators in an effort to settle a policy on roaming and net neutrality. As with all Oettinger-related stories, you need to ask what his boss, EU VP Andrus Ansip, is doing.

The DISH-T-Mobile story is coming around again. The FCC might make them cough up some spectrum if true. Meanwhile, T-Mobile wrote to Tom Wheeler arguing for more 600MHz to be carved out to make sure the dynamic duo don’t eat it all.

After the Indian 4G auction, Idea Cellular has put up its data pricing sharply in the New Delhi circle. It’ll be interesting to see how that works. In Burma, meanwhile, prices are plummeting as Telenor and Ooredoo battle for share. Apparently, 65% of the market is already on smartphones.

iTunes streaming is coming; Apple, Chromecast market share; ad blockers; Google pays Chinese vendors

Apple’s music streaming service has been confirmed by the CEO of Sony Music ahead of today’s WWDC. Slightly ironically, Apple has also had to recall the Beats Pill X1 speaker after some of them burst into flames.

Meanwhile, Dan Rayburn blogs that Apple’s TV is still in the lead in the streaming device market, at around 40% market share, but the Google Chromecast has raced up to 34% very quickly.

Apple may be considering giving app developers and content creators a bigger share of the iTunes Store pricing.

Larry Page thinks ad blockers are mostly a problem for advertisers, who need to be less annoying.

Google has been struggling to derive anything much from the vast growth of Android in China. Most of the devices are so-called forkdroids, based on the open-source Android codebase with the Google functionality stripped and replaced. Now, Google is offering Chinese vendors hard cash to ship the Google Play Store app.

Revisiting digital TV standards.

BT may be about to up the price of BT Sport.

And Yahoo! Pipes, we’ll miss you.

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