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5G, IoT, Cloud, APAC: Telco 2.0 News Review

The race to gigabit mobile - Ericsson/Telstra hits 950Mbps; Qualcomm mmWave demo; Samsung “not” selling Networks unit

Who’s going to be the first to launch a gigabit wireless service? KT claims they already did, by using multipath TCP over both their 3-band LTE and their WiFi. This week, Ericsson and Telstra claim they got within 50Mbps of the mark in a pure cellular setup, aggregating 100MHz of spectrum across Telstra’s holdings from 700 to 2600MHz. They claim to have measured 950Mbps downlink with a UDP streaming application, and a Speedtest.net result of 843Mbps. Ericsson also claims a 500Mbps test in 3-band CA, using a new modulation scheme.

As this goes on, more and more carriers are upgrading to 2- or 3-band CA and posting higher speeds.

Last week, Tele2 in the Netherlands claimed 375Mbps, and this week they extended this to their Estonian network. This week, Slovak Telecom turned up 300Mbps, and now Gabon Tel claims 233Mbps.

Qualcomm has been demonstrating its mmWave beamforming technology, probably with a view to taking control of the channel modelling working group in 3GPP RAN. If that isn’t exotic enough, though, what about LiFi? This system claims to achieve 1Gbps over very short distances using visible light, you know, the stuff out of the light bulb.

The South Korean operators have been some of the most vigorous proponents of 5G, and have been advocating by far the most aggressive timeline for deployment. So it seems surprising that Samsung even has to deny that it might be selling off the networks business.

Despite the gigafest, Ericsson is trying to de-emphasise its networks business and find strategic partners for its new businesses like media.

AT&T has been touting some sort of fixed-wireless solution for its rural markets, integrated with the DirecTV satellite service, for years now. All the giga-optimism tends to make that sound a better idea, and here’s something interesting - they’re buying Aussie vendor Netcomm Wireless’s gear for a trial network.

Similarly, a lot of B2B ISPs will be looking with interest at the prospect of gigabit multipoint wireless - Metronet UK, which is deploying their fixed-wireless network into Wigan this week, already offers gigabit speeds on point-to-point leased lines, and boasts of being able to deliver a new line within 5-10 days. A cellular or point-to-multipoint system would bring that down even further.

The 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog takes a look at “network slicing” and NFV.  

To get the best out of NFV, will telcos have to embrace open-source software? That’s the question we ask in the new The Open-Source Telco: Taking Control of Our Destiny executive briefing. Here’s Dan York’s keynote on a similar topic at this year’s Astricon, the Asterisk user conference:

Orange LoRa launches, but goes on with 2G/4G IoT trials; HERE in Holland; Evil Barbie

Orange has announced that its LoRa deployment will go live in Q1 with 17 French metropolitan areas covered. The rollout will then proceed nationally. Interestingly, being the hardcore Euro-5 ex-incumbent that it is, Orange also threw the standards forums and the vendors a bone - although Orange is launching an entirely separate, non-cellular IoT-focused radio network, they also say they’re supporting the 3GPP standardisation, and that they will be trialling both the new Extended Coverage GSM proposal and the 3GPP’s “NB-IOT”, also known as LTE-M, with Ericsson some time next year.

Jasper Wireless’s Chief Customer Officer says the IoT is a mainstream proposition, and that it’s good that more markets other than connected cars are opening up.

Operators tend to wish they could have more connected cars, rather than other markets, as they are relatively lucrative, and come in well-defined long-term contracts with the automakers rather than in dribs and drabs from tiny startups. Nokia HERE, still in the process of being sold to German car manufacturers, may get the job to test out a “road user messaging system” for the Dutch government. This sort of thing is often cited as a key use case for 5G, but HERE is talking about building it on existing 3G and 4G networks.

Here’s an interesting series of blog posts. Usually, software isn’t subject to US product liability…until it’s built into some kind of hardware device. Who will be the first IoT developer to be sued into ruin? Also, who’s ultimately responsible?

Evil Barbie: the doll’s communications with Marvel’s Siri-clone speech recognition engine have been hacked, and theoretically the attacker could both use her as a bug and get her to say, well, anything really. The possibilities are endless!

If you thought that was bad, though, try Vtech, the Chinese company that makes supposedly educational electronic toys. These days, of course, they’re basically ruggedised Android devices, they’re all connected to the cloud, and there are downloadable apps, and such. That implies there’s a huge database of user accounts somewhere, and guess what? 4.8 megarecords leaked including 227,000 kids. And the passwords were only MD5-hashed, not salted, so cracking them is pretty trivial.

HP: results, reselling MS Azure, new architecture; AWS offers, er, servers; Google cloud outage

HP’s results are out, the last set before the company splits in two. Revenue was down 2% year-on-year on a constant currency basis, and 9% year-on-year for Q3. That said, profitability was quite a bit better than expected both for the full year and the quarter.

After they shut down the public cloud version of Helion, they’re now going to resell Microsoft Azure cloud services. Meanwhile, they’re reconfiguring their approach to data centre hardware around a new “composable infrastructure” concept that implies keeping all the various resources together at the rack scale and virtualising over the racks.

Amazon Web Services EC2 is now offering a Dedicated Host product or as we technical johnnies call it, a “server”. Basically you get to pin your virtual machine to a named physical host, either on a session basis or even forever, something like managed hosting with a really comprehensive API. Free.fr has something similar with Scaleway.

Also, AWS this week forced some customers to reset their passwords after a security compromise.

Google Compute Engine had a 70 minute outage in Europe after a BGP routing leak.

And here’s a look back at an iconic 1999 talk on what worked in computer science. The list has stood up pretty well.

Indian CAPEX surge, $300m fine for Vodafone, Turkcell buys out TeliaSonera Eurasia

Bharti Airtel has announced $9bn of additional CAPEX over the next three years, a week after Vodafone’s Indian opco promised to invest an extra $2bn. As well as surging demand for data, the driver here is the presence of Reliance Jio. Much-delayed it may be, but its very existence seems to have kicked off a wave of investment. Bharti Airtel is planning to add 160,000 eNode-Bs, 53k a year. The implied price per is much higher than in the China Mobile supercontracts, almost certainly because the CAPEX figure includes a lot of infrastructure work over and above the radio equipment.

Meanwhile, the GSMA reckons that the mobile industry is 6.1% of Indian GDP.

It looks like Vodafone will have to pay up $300m in order to merge its various Indian business units into something they can float on the stock market. The money is required as security for whatever the courts eventually decide they have to pay in order to settle a variety of tax cases involving the regional businesses.

In Pakistan, Vimpelcom’s local opco Mobilink is acquiring Warid Telecom in an all-shares deal, and the government is negotiating with BlackBerry because they want to spy on BlackBerry encrypted traffic. In parallel, the government of Bangladesh wants something similar from Facebook.

Turkcell wants to buy out TeliaSonera’s stakes in their central Asian and Russian operations. Meanwhile, the US authorities may be investigating TeliaSonera’s Eurasian opcos as part of the corruption scandal that led to them selling up.

And China Mobile is acquiring fixed operator China Tietong, or more accurately, China Tietong is being consolidated from CMCC into the China Mobile operating company.

Xiaomi, endangered unicorn; “dark Android”; Chinese LTE surges ahead; the dash for homegrown chips

It looks like that $45bn valuation on Xiaomi was a little premature. Suppliers tell Bloomberg Businessweek that the OEM has substantially cut its orders for components, which can only mean shorter production runs, destocking in the supply chain, and eventually, lower sales. To be precise, Xiaomi doesn’t order much in advance, instead operating a just-in-time supply chain, so if the suppliers have reduced the capacity they devote to Xiaomi orders, shipments must already be falling.

Against a full-year target of 100m smartphones, at the end of Q3, Xiaomi had shipped 53m, so it will have to get its skates on if it wants to miss the target badly rather than catastrophically. In March, management shaded the target down to “80m to 100m”, but even the lower end of that range implies they’re missing by about 3m phones/quarter.

“All those expectations of growth aren’t being realized, which now makes that $45 billion valuation unfeasible,” said Alberto Moel, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein in Hong Kong. “The argument was that their business is kind of like Apple and they’re growing very fast, but they’re no longer growing so fast and they’re not as good as Apple.”

The only problem with that argument was that Xiaomi is an Android OEM that designs phones and assembles them from proprietary parts, rather like Dell and nothing at all like the Tim Cook-era, manufacturing-heavy Apple.

Charles Arthur, meanwhile, points out that more and more of the Android revenue pool goes to companies who barely report any financials, like Huawei or indeed Xiaomi, and the ones that do like HTC, Sony, LG, or even Lenovo are losing money hand over fist.

screenshot-2015-11-24-16-36-13.png Chinese adoption of LTE is hurtling ahead, as Counterpoint Research points out, but how much of the value in that is going straight to the silicon vendors who make the LTE modems? Also, this chart is testimony to the failure of TD-SCDMA and the Eurovendors’ return to China.

China-LTE-Subs-Growth-300M-users-1024x856.pngThe Chinese government’s National Integrated Circuit Industry Fund has noticed this, and it’s paying for projects at ZTE, Huawei Silicon, and Leadcore Technology to develop their own ARM-based SoCs. 

Meanwhile, it turns out that the Apple A9X doesn’t bother with a L3 cache at all and instead relies on much increased I/O bandwidth to main memory. And LG Display is building a $9bn factory to make OLED displays, perhaps because Apple might start using them in iPhones after 2018.

Here’s a hostile review of the iPad Pro.

The Raspberry Pi Zero is a $5 Linux machine.

The very first ARM processor, visualised!

WRC-15: 700, 1.4, and 3.4 bands done. VMED takes BT to Europe; T-Giveaway up to $850; Comcast towers

WRC-15 has spoken, and the mobile industry is getting the 700MHz band worldwide, plus the 1.4 and 3.4GHz bands, while the broadcasters keep the 470-690MHz UHF band for at least another decade. Both the GSMA and the European Broadcasting Union say they’re “satisfied”. Meanwhile, the French regulator has released more details of their 700MHz auction.

The UK government has found £550m for the costs of clearing the 700MHz band, notably by replacing antennas and getting the ever-problematic wireless microphone users settled.

Virgin Media is going to the EU in an effort to stop BT Openreach getting any more subsidy. Their argument is that the subsidy is justified in order to reach more with broadband, but BT is really using it to overbuild their own network.

Kingston Communications is going to sell off all its assets outside Hull.

Poland’s 4th operator, P4/Play, which is up for sale, is growing fast, pushing into 3rd place and increasing its profits by 42% this year.

The US price war, we noted last week, is back. This week, T-Mobile announced yet another giveaway to churners from Sprint. As well as the maximum of $650 they will offer to buy out your contract and pay off any remaining device fees, T-Mo will also offer anyone porting from Sprint or its in-house MVNOs an additional $200 service credit.

Centurylink and Cogent have signed a peering agreement.

And Comcast is buying towers. Only 122 of them so far, but you do wonder.

EE, O2 look at bulk ad blocking; DMGT results, hit by the ad crunch; remember iBeacons?

Both EE and O2 UK are giving serious consideration to introducing network-wide ad blocking, aiming at ads that exhibit “three complaints - poor targeting, poor creative, and data heavy”.

German media giant Axel Springer is suing Blockr, an iOS adblocker app, in the hope that the nightmare might stop. This is the second time they’ve sued an adblocker, having had a go at the Adblock Plus browser extension. The final ruling is not until the 10th, but the prospects don’t look good.

Meanwhile, Daily Mail & General Trust’s results give us some insight into the great advertising bust of 2015. Mail Online missed its revenue targets, as growth in digital ads slowed by more than half, and perhaps even more worryingly, print advertising revenues fell 12%.

Bloomberg reports on the failure of Apple’s iBeacons, and the wider universe of ad-tech startups around Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, to do much at all.

At the same time, customers seem to have a very low tolerance for such messages. InMarket found that people basically stop using any app that sent them more than one message.

Perhaps we’ve all just had enough advertising.

NSA stops collecting some CDRs; Telegram; IoT security

As of 2359 Eastern Standard Time, 29th November (i.e. last night), the NSA is no longer routinely collecting everyone’s CDRs in the United States. Instead, they’ve got to get the data from your telco.

The rest of us, however, will just get spied on as usual. Adrian “RevK” Kennard of Andrews & Arnold points out in an official comment on the Investigatory Powers Bill that just collecting a list of which hosts someone connected to - a so-called Internet Connection Record - is useless because so many apps keep a connection open all the time.

Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, seems to leak some status information in its default configuration.

Here’s another example of really terrible IoT security.

A tiny spoofing device for hacking AMEX cards.

How many people actually set the Evil Bit?

And Phil Goldstein leaves Fierce Wireless.

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