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Future Network, Fibre, Smartphones - Telco 2.0 News Review

VZW 28GHz tests; Tele2 virtualises for 5G; more ONOS telco cloud; open optical switching; Ahuja out at Cisco

Verizon has filed papers with the FCC requesting permission to test 5G technology in the 28GHz band at three locations in the US. The test campaign will last at most six months and it intends to evaluate Ericsson, Intel, Samsung, and Qualcomm equipment. Interestingly, Nokia has already been testing with VZ in the same area.

Tele2, meanwhile, is moving its core network into a private cloud, and it is positioning this as preparation for 5G.

The system is based on OpenStack, using Huawei and Cisco hardware, and Canonical’s VNF manager, Juju. Canonical itself got the contract to do the systems integration and manage the new setup. The first app to move is the virtualised EPC itself, in Q3.

AT&T’s enterprise side has held a substantial led in the move to cloud over its arch-rival, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Now, VZ is beginning to act. At the ON.Labs Open Networking Summit, the ONOS developer conference, it announced that since late 2015 it possesses a cloud operating across 5 data centres, using RedHat’s implementation of OpenStack, with a Neutron plugin to manage its Big Switch virtual switches via ONOS. VZ describes the individual sites as “pods”, and says the next step is “aggregation - and then, the edge”.

AT&T, meanwhile, has started an open-source hardware group with Ciena, Fujitsu, and Nokia to develop designs for ROADMS, basically optical switches. It wants to plug them into the wider SDN infrastructure and manage it all in OpenStack, and it’d also presumably quite like lower prices.

Here’s an interesting talk by Equinix’s CTO about the impact of open-source technology on the data centre.

Some more new customers for Google Cloud Platform - Universal Media and Coca-Cola.

Oracle has a new product line for customers who want its cloud, but want it in their data centre with their own lock on the door. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Canonical’s mini-cloud in an orange flight case, the Orange Box.

Long-time head of Service Provider at Cisco, Kelly Ahuja, is out and the company is going through a complicated re-organisation.

5G researchers at Bristol University have achieved a 12x improvement in spectral efficiency over LTE, using a massive-MIMO setup with 128 antennas.

An interesting whitepaper from the EU-funded METIS II research group on the requirements for a 5G network architecture.

Apple: reviving the tablet market, selling MS Office 365, buying Imagination Tech, the FBI finally breaks that iPhone

After last week’s Apple announcements, the washup. Apple’s Phil Schiller said it was “sad” there were so many old PCs around, and the new iPad Pro is fairly clearly designed to target them for replacement. But there are also a hell of a lot of old iPads out there. As Kantar Worldpanel analyst Carolina Milanesi points out, the single most common iPad is the iPad 2 from March, 2011 and the second-most common is the original.

ABI sums up the challenge - tablet shipments are dreadful pretty much everywhere, although at least there’s the possibility of upselling Chinese users giving up their no-name Android devices. So you can see why Apple would want to hit the PC installed base. Horace’s charts here also speak to the point that the tablet market has saturated very fast.

The biggest barrier to swapping out those old PCs would be getting their owners to dump Windows for iOS. Fascinatingly, Apple is now selling Microsoft Office 365 accounts at the checkout with new gadgets.

HP is talking up a new strategy of confronting Apple in the high-end with the Elite X3 and the Elitebook laptops.

Apple, however, is concentrating on its strategy of getting hard-to-duplicate technologies and manufacturing systems in-house. This week it acquired more chip design know-how by buying up Imagination Technologies, fairly clearly to get its hands on the PowerVR GPU technology and the people behind it. It has often used the PowerVR chips, now it wants to make its own, and not coincidentally, deny them to the competition.

On a similar theme, as well as diversifying its cloud spending by giving Google some business, Apple is building its own data centres again.

Even Homer nods. iOS 9.3 contains a bug that breaks hyperlinks.

Meanwhile, the FBI managed to get into the famous locked iPhone, and as a result, the Apple vs. FBI case is now moot. Speculation is rife about the possible role of Israeli firm Cellebrite, makers of a device police forces use to slurp data from suspects’ phones. I remember a meeting at MWC years ago where Cellebrite’s CEO offered to demonstrate the tool…on mine. Thanks, but no thanks, as they say. There’s some discussion of how it might work here, but we rather like the idea some G-man finally tried “1234passw0rd”.

AMOLED screens are now cheaper than LCDs.

The LG G5’s camera is really very impressive even without the clip-on photography module.

700, 2.5GHz in the iPhone SE; Wheeler on 600MHz; Comcast wants spectrum; AT&T accuses Netflix of “throttling”

The selection of LTE bands in the new iPhone is interesting. Bands 14 and 25 are in, which means the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands are available for 2x carrier aggregation. But Band 30, the 2.3GHz band that’s so far unique to AT&T, isn’t.

Less seriously, T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s constant Twitter trolling has lastingly changed the US wireless industry’s style. Everyone’s caught a bit of it, even Verizon Wireless, where it usually tries to rise above it. This week, Sprint trumpeted the hiring of two VZW regional presidents, and promptly VZW hired Ricky Jervais of all people to badmouth Sprint’s network on TV.

More seriously, Tom “Lawman” Wheeler told Congress he expects the 600MHz auction process to take years, complained that the WRC-15 didn’t deal with 28GHz, and remarked that the whole world seemed to be hanging on every word from the US about 5G.

T-Mobile, for its part, filed a comment with the FCC arguing its current plans for the 600MHz were just fine, while the National Association of Broadcasters says it’s all happening too quickly.

Comcast, interestingly enough, has signed up to bid for 600MHz spectrum. What can it be planning? Also, something called ParkerB Wireless has signed up to bid using DISH’s office address. Can we be facing a repeat of the Northstar “small business” caper, so soon? Well, by the time it comes up on the docket, Lawman Wheeler may be out of town, so it’s worth a try.

Best regulatory complaint of the week - AT&T complains to the FCC that Netflix is “throttling” its mobile users, or in other words, it serves video at lower resolutions to people on mobile networks so they don’t explode their data caps.

On a similar theme, Verizon’s chief lobbyist has come out in support of something very like net neutrality.

And if this doesn’t start a regulatory row in the end, I don’t know what will. Comcast is now selling its services via Amazon.com, a company that offers competing over-the-top video streaming.

ENEL in €2.5bn fibre build; VF.de ups cable speeds; VZW, AT&T play up cableco Ethernet; Globe FTTH

Italy’s electricity grid, ENEL, is going into the fibre business on a big scale. The company plans to spend €2.5bn laying FTTH into its own infrastructure, which apparently includes three times as many street cabinets as Telecom Italia, and then wholesale the fibre to anyone who wants it. Wind and Vodafone are mentioned as potential launch customers. Benoit Felten has some words of warning.

France has banned carriers from referring to co-ax cable, FTTC, or whatever as “fibre”, and has also required them to quote upload speeds as prominently as download speeds.

Vodafone Germany has begun the second wave of its cable upgrades, taking the top speed to 400Mbps.

Verizon has started a pre-emptive ad campaign talking up FiOS’s uplink speeds as defence against the coming Comcast DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit threat. It is also scared enough of cablecos’ growing Ethernet over DOCSIS enterprise business that it is both moaning to the FCC and standing up a rival product using FiOS fibre. AT&T is also playing up the EoD threat, as both carriers lobby the FCC over its special access consultation.

Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City.

Globe Telecom is putting the majority of its CAPEX into FTTH.

The UK’s putative 10Mbps universal service obligation does seem to exist - OFCOM is holding a four-week public consultation.

China Tel, MTS, Oi FY; Jas Mobile loses licence; Alfa stake in Turkcell for sale; Orange-Bouygues crunch meeting

After Mobile and Unicom, here comes China Telecom with its results. Mobile service revenue was up 3.5%, and net profits 13.4%. It ascribes the success to 4G uptake, with a hand from its fixed operation’s excellent (64%) penetration of FTTH.

Another company doing well in the 4G rollout is MTS, which was one of the picks in the 4G Rollout Analysis Executive Briefing. Mobile service revenue was up 2%, subscribers are still rising, while data traffic was up 19.8%. Groupwide, revenue was up 4% with margins flat.

On the other hand, after TIM Brasil, it was Oi’s turn to feel the Brazilian economy’s crisis. Revenue for 2015 was down 4.2%, with a worrying 6% slide in subscribers and domestic market EBITDA off 9.3%.

Jas Mobile, the would-be fourth MNO in Thailand, has definitively failed to come up with the licence fee money and lost its allocation of 900MHz spectrum. The band is likely to end up with market leader AIS. Only a real cynic…

Meanwhile, Viettel is having another go at Burma’s 4th mobile licence, and OMGTEL, competing with Xavier Niel’s MyRepublic for the 4th Singapore licence, says it’s signed for $400m of the $1bn funding it’s after.

Roshan’s CEO says Afghanistan has too many MNOs.

Alfa Telecom is suggesting it might be willing to sell the much-litigated stake in Turkcell back to Cukurova Group.

Angolan mobile users have found a use for zero-rating programs like Wikipedia and Facebook Zero - upload pirate content as part of a Wikipedia article, free, download it, free.

Orange and Bouygues will be having the big meeting on Wednesday.

And Belgium’s emergency services network, running over Belgacom’s Proximus mobile network, broke down during the terrorist attack last week. It wasn’t the mobile data network that failed, though, as they were able to get through on Whatsapp.

More LPWAN deployments; nobody wants to talk about 2G shutdown; Nest Labs struggling

The LPWAN drum beat keeps up. Sigfox signs up Altice/SFR in France and then reseller Wireless Logic for its partner, Arqiva, in the UK.

A good explainer of what the LPWAN fuss is about.

RCRWireless asks AT&T what impact the shutdown of their GSM network, planned for next year, will have on the Internet of Things. AT&T doesn’t answer the question.

Nest Labs doesn’t seem to be working very well, and half the employees they acqui-hired with the $555m buy of Dropcam have quit.

WiFi light switches are not such a good idea (again).

And Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Tay, was released onto Twitter this week. Within 16 hours, she had been taken offline after, as the Daily Telegraph put it perfectly, becoming a Hitler-obsessed sex robot.

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