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July 21, 2016

Net Neutrality 2021: IoT, NFV and 5G ready?

We’ve just published “Net Neutrality 2021: IoT, NFV and 5G ready?

This report explores how Net Neutrality legislation has evolved significantly, looking at the general shape and specifics in the EU, US, India, Brazil and other territories. In general telcos can differentiate some aspects of broadband access with pricing or “specialized services”, but Internet app-blocking or paid-priority are disallowed. While legal challenges are ongoing, the way ahead seems much clearer, and we explore how telcos should focus on and enable interesting non-Internet connectivity opportunities around 5G, NFV and IoT.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Future of the Network Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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July 19, 2016

Telco Digital Customer Engagement Benchmark

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Customers are more educated, more empowered and have more options available to them than ever before. They are also engaging with companies through more channels than previously, as social media and search engines overtake print and television as the most effective way of reaching out to customers. In a 2015 ‘point of view’ report Deloitte stated that 45% of smartphones owners were making purchases using a mobile device every month, and in addition complaints and queries are increasingly being made online rather than in person or via the phone. This shift in the market highlights how important customers’ digital engagement and satisfaction is, as more and more customers are assessing companies’ services through their digital brand experiences.

Creating a seamless, intuitive and trusted digital experience should be at the forefront of all telecom business models, such as through innovations in omni-channel strategies. An omni-channel approach, i.e. integrating online and bricks and mortar customer experiences, can help improve the effectiveness of telecoms’ marketing as a more sophisticated ‘single-view’ picture of their customers allows for better targeting of their wants and needs. This will help reduce churn and increase ARPU.

An omni-channel focus will also bring increased conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment through a larger availability of convenient online shopping options and secure payment solutions. This can help improve customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty. Not only will omni-channel solutions increase revenue in these ways and more, it will also save companies money, through, for example, reduced time spent on resolving customer service issues. There should be no need for customers to repeat simple information or be passed around to different areas of the company as a clear and unified picture should be available rather than customer data remaining stuck in specific siloes. The need to develop omni-channel solutions should be clear, and many telco companies are some way to providing this seamless picture to their customers.

STL Partners has created a Digital Engagement Benchmarking Tool which can assess your operator’s performance in digital maturity, and highlight areas where omni-channel development would be beneficial. A free, bespoke report will be created which benchmarks your company against industry competition and ‘best-in-class’ performers outside telecoms, the metrics covering digital sales and marketing, digital customer experience and omni-channel strategy. The report will be sent to you by the end of August. If this is something you would be interested in, complete our 5-10 minute survey now. All information submitted will be treated as strictly confidential and your operator (or its data) will not be identified in any reports to send other participants in this study, or other third parties. 

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July 15, 2016

Cloud 2020: Telcos’ Role, Scenarios and Forecast

Although the shape of the cloud industry turned out better than expected, most telco strategies in the cloud haven’t delivered. Our latest article investigates why, what has led to success, and what telcos need to learn to do differently. 

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Enterprise Cloud & ICT Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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M&A and majority investment are key tools in building digital businesses. But are telcos actively investing? In our latest report we look in detail at SingTel, Telstra and Verizon, which have committed significantly to digital investment to extend their businesses. We also discuss why most European operators lag their Asia-Pac and North American peers. Our analysis is based on the newly-developed STL Partners Digital Investment Database, which tracks investments by 22 leading service providers.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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July 11, 2016

The broken Kafkaesque world of BT.

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This is a personal post by Chris Barraclough based on recent interactions with BT.

I worry for BT, I really do.

I am usually sceptical of tales of woe about a company that you hear at dinner party tables. A single data-point is never going to reflect a company’s performance - especially if the story is recounted over an alcohol-fuelled meal where there is a strong danger of ‘embellishment’. However, recently I have had so many conversations with staff at all levels of BT - strategy, customer service, orders, faults, executive complaints - that I feel I have a reasonable understanding of the processes and culture at BT. And pretty it ain’t.

I have not been a BT customer for around a decade. However, having sold my house and moved into a rental property in Cambridgeshire, I decided it was easiest to use BT as the previous tenant had done so. They had deactivated the phone line and stopped broadband and reactivating everything should be a simple. How wrong I was.

1. I placed the order relatively easy and received a text in around 24 hours saying the phone line was live. However, I had no dial tone - just a crackling line as if it was open but no calls could be made.

2. I spent over 2 hours on the phone to customer services, then orders, then faults trying to get this resolved. Nobody could answer my question about what was preventing me from getting a dial tone. When transferring my calls between departments, 3 times they were dropped internally and I had to go back to square 1 and wait in the queue. Things are not helped in that BT has customer-facing operations in the UK, India and the Philippines and calls are routed between them.
        a. On one occasion, the customer service rep said that they could not actually get a line to transfer the call. It seems astonishing that a major international telecommunications provider cannot guarantee lines between its various call centres.
        b. Every single time a call was transferred to a new person, I had to wait for 10-20 minutes and then go through the same process of giving my name, address, postcode, etc. Again, it seems extraordinary that a major telecommunications and IT player cannot manage the transfer of customer details with a call.

3. Finally, the phone line just started working - I had a dial tone!

4. I then spent 1.5 hours trying to set up broadband and BT TV and was finally told that I couldn’t have BT TV as BT couldn’t give me enough bandwidth. However, I was told I could get BT Sport via an app at £5/month or via Sky at £6/month. It was a delicious irony that I had to pay a premium because BT couldn’t provide the normal TV service owing to their own broadband limitations.

5. I plumped to receive BT via Sky, so off I went to Sky to set up the TV Service. It took 15 mins to sort it out. In the end, I said I might as well get them to do the phone and broadband as they were (a) more efficient and (b) much cheaper than BT.

6. I phoned BT to cancel my orders. The customer service rep said that since I had been such a loyal customer he would drop my phone and broadband charges from £40 to £30. This despite the fact that I had had the phone working for a few hours and the broadband order had only been placed 2 hours before! Why not just offer a fair price in the first place? Just reading a script I suppose…

7. I then received an email from the head of customer care at BT (a ‘no reply’ one so I couldn’t get back to her) saying I would be charged £157 for Sky to take over the phone line as the take-over date was outside my ‘cooling off period’. I called customer service and told them this was not fair. They should allow me to pass to Sky for free as I had had so many problems with BT. They refused and said I would have to cancel the line and then ask Sky to set a new one up. Crazy since both BT and Sky have to use the BT company Openreach to supply lines anyway. So I asked customer services to cancel the line. They said they couldn’t because Sky already had a request in! They said I had to get Sky to drop their transfer request, then come back to BT to cancel my line, then go back to Sky to order a new one.
        a.I escalated this up to Gavin Patterson, the Group CEO at BT to see whether they would move on it. In fairness, he responded very quickly and passed it to the executive complaints team….
        b. …who repeated what the customer services rep said - I had to cancel my order with Sky, cancel my line with BT, and re-order with Sky. Sigh.

8. So, to the bemusement of Sky, I followed the strange convoluted process outlined by BT. “Er, why don’t they just leave our line take-over request in place and allow you to keep using the line up until we take it over and then swallow the £157 charge?” the customer services rep at Sky asked. It was a good question. I couldn’t answer it. Nobody at BT seemed to be able to answer it either. But follow the broken BT process we did and I hope that Sky will provide me with a phone line and broadband in the next 3 days. Sky are not perfect - the company’s cancellation process, which requires the user to call them to cancel rather than email or write, is a disgrace - but they have been a joy on this by comparison to BT.

I know that things go wrong at companies - I run a small research and consulting firm alongside two colleagues and we, and the firm, makes mistakes. What is so disappointing at BT is that so many basic systems and processes are broken. And, worse than this, I get no sense of anyone trying to help the customer (beyond one Irish man who wanted to resolve the line fault). Nobody I spoke to was able to make a decision. Nobody wanted to really understand or help me at any stage. Too often I was made to feel that I was ‘being difficult’. Was I angry and sarcastic at times? Yes, guilty. But I had spent hours and hours trying to resolve things and been frustrated at every turn. But for BT staff to get resentful and terse with me - as happened more than once - gives me little sense that the customer comes first. BT has to learn to listen and learn.

Which leads me finally to my call with a senior strategy executive at BT. This occurred separately to anything above and was on a ‘professional basis’. He had been invited by some colleagues to join a call where STL Partners was outlining a vision of growth for the industry and BT and how new processes and technology could enable this. He described our thinking as showing ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ‘religious fervour’ and lacking ‘evidence’. When we cited several examples of operators pursuing similar thinking and strategies and outlined examples of success, these were dismissed as not being relevant. In essence, each example was deemed unrepresentative of BT. In other words, he framed things only in BT’s current situation - there was a sense that nothing could be learned from anything outside BT’s own frame of reference. There was nothing he or BT could learn. He didn’t listen. This worries me most. Strategy guys should be the most outward-looking and ambitious parts of the organisation. Sure, they must be rationale and evidence-based but they should seek to apply thinking from outside their organisation - they must listen, learn and apply lessons within their organisations. That is the essence of Telco 2.0. To not do so is surely the ultimate sign of cognitive dissonance and suggests an inability to learn and grow - something borne out by my experiences in ordering services from BT. So I say again…

…I worry for BT, I really do.

UPDATE.

Despite assurances that I had now cancelled all services within the 10-day cooling off period and would therefore incur no penalties from BT, I today received the text below with a warning that a £157 charge was on its way. So back to the executive complaints team I go. More time wasted. Thanks BT.

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5G, APAC, Europe, the Cloud: Telco 2.0 News Review

5G against net neutrality; EU, FCC moves on spectrum; NGMN action; Verizon specs

A team of European operators, plus some vendors and vertical industry players, has submitted a “5G manifesto” to the European Commission. They’re after some money to support large-scale demo projects and standardisation (not that much - a total of €1.5bn), plus they want harmonised spectrum licencing of the 700MHz, 3.4 to 3.8GHz, and 24GHz-plus by 2020. Their timeline expectations are focused on 2020, by which time they want to have at least one EU city covered. In the meantime, they’re promising a wave of trials focused on vertical use cases, on a pan-European basis, that will begin once 3GPP R14 arrives in 2018.

2018, you say?

Of course - 3GPP is expecting to have the New Radio specs frozen by then. Although they’re still planning to keep them for R15, you can see the link, especially as early 5G will keep the LTE control plane, so the New Radio could be deployed very quickly. And here’s Verizon Wireless, with its very own complete 5G radio spec.

Yes, that’s right, they’ve issued a specification for what they call a 5G radio, presumably the technology they want to use in the fixed-wireless product they’re planning. The documents are here, and the partners involved are Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung, aka the chipmaker alliance that’s been pushing for early 5G since the last 3GPP RAN.

Now here’s the bill. They also have a whole list of pretty classic Eurotelco regulatory want-wants. For example, regulation should “prioritise investment in connectivity” over “consumer benefits”, there should generally be less ex-ante regulation, and they want to have 5G “network slicing” carved out from the net neutrality rules. Not surprisingly, Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger is very pleased in his role as the political wing of the E-5, and we can probably presume that his boss, Digital Single Market VP Andrus Ansip, is less so.

Meanwhile, the NGMN has announced three new working groups. One of these covers standard test-cases and methodology, another 5G systems architecture, and a third “vehicle-to-X” in cooperation with the automakers. Here’s a DTAG announcement on some “LTE-V” tests.

On the 14th of July, the FCC will be holding an open meeting on two enormous initiatives - PSTN shutdown, and spectrum allocation for 5G, notably above 24GHz. Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld is holding a telebriefing ahead of the event, tomorrow. A press release on the proposed Further NPRM is here, and this 5G Americas presentation is a useful roundup of worldwide 5G activity.

It seems very likely that the millimeter-wave spectrum will be coming much, much sooner than the 600MHz, and that a lot of it might be unlicensed, going by Lawman Wheeler’s remarks here. That’s another mark in favour of early 5G in the US.

Here’s an interview with Sprint’s new CTO, Günther Ottendorfer, ex-Telekom Austria and Optus. It’s all about their 2.5GHz block apparently.

Early 5G is very likely to kick off in fixed wireless - here’s a product from Wind Hellas, and this story would make more sense if it wasn’t for Angie Comms’ involvement (see this News Review from April 2015).

And Facebook is developing an open-source small cell, which doesn’t look a million miles from OpenBTS at the moment, although they plan to add 3G/4G support before they publish.

S7s sell, Samsung surges; 100k Vives; Foxconn, Line IPOs; Pokemon Go, monster hit; Vodafone India vs Telenor

Samsung is expecting a $7bn profit quarter, its best in two years, as the S7s sell like hot cakes. Revenue is up 3.1%, and operating profit 17%, suggesting that the average selling price has improved and the mix of shipments includes more flagships. That said, they’re also having an unseemly row with Consumer Reports after they tested Samsung’s promise that the S7 Active is waterproof to a depth of 5 feet for 30 minutes, and the phones soaked out.

The Vive VR headset has now sold 100,000 units, well ahead of the Oculus Rift, but Ars Technica notes that manufacturer HTC has very little value-added content in it. Instead, it’s rather like an early iPhone - designed in detail by Valve, running Valve software, assembled under contract by HTC, mostly out of Samsung componentry. Unlike the iPhone, though, the Foxconn-like assembler HTC gets to put their brand on it. Ars argues that Valve, rather like Google with regard to Android, deliberately stepped back from this so as to emphasise the ecosystem and avoid putting off app developers.

Foxconn itself is in the process of floating its connectors unit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and the disclosure shows that revenue growth is stagnating and margins are falling.

Nintendo has had a massive global hit with Pokemon Go, an AR remix of the game that sends you off to search for the little fellas with your phone. Having gone into the US charts at No.1, it was downloaded more often by Android users than Tinder on day one, and the launch in Japan is still to come. This is actually only Nintendo’s second mobile app - the company is usually much more interested in selling hardware - but it’s a reminder to everyone that they know from games development, especially as they’re planning to launch four more apps this year.

One player in the US found a dead body. The shares are up 25%.

Line’s IPO, the first by a Japanese company in the US since 2000, looks like it’s going to be pricey, shooting to raise $1.3bn. This seems a bit surprising, but then there have been very few substantial tech IPOs recently with the exception of Twilio, and perhaps there’s some pent-up demand.

Is Vodafone India going to buy Telenor’s opco in the country? Telenor India has about 5 per cent of the market, but it owns precious 1800MHz, “2G/4G” spectrum over 7 Indian telecoms circles, compared to Vodafone’s 5, Idea’s 10, and Bharti and RJio’s national coverage. The block is valued at $1bn - Vodafone could certainly find the money, but the question is whether to buy it this way or via the spectrum auction coming up in the autumn.

Bharti, meanwhile, has closed its acquisition of 2.3GHz spectrum from Aircel in six out of the eight circles involved. The 20MHz block cost them $520m.

Bharti, Idea, and Chunghwa Telecom were all among the star 4G operators we identified in this report. Chunghwa says it hopes to sign up another 2 million 4G subs this year, to reach 7 million or 40% market share by year-end.

3-Wind is a go…as long as Xavier Niel joins in; O2 shares for customers; London-wide neutral host; Swedish 700MHz

It looks like the EU is now happy with the 3 Italia-Wind deal. The price of getting it away? Inviting Xavier Niel into the Italian market. Iliad gets 2x35MHz of spectrum spread between the 900, 1800, 2100, and 2600MHz bands for some $450m, to be paid over two years from 2017. It also gets several thousand urban macro sites, and either a network-sharing agreement for the rural ones or an additional portfolio of rural assets. Clearly, someone’s been studying up the various network-sharing agreements in France, as they have the same share-in-the-countryside/compete-in-the-city structure. Also, Niel has to sell his (fairly nugatory) stake in TI.

So, 3 gets to merge with Wind, but on condition Niel gets to toss a price bomb into the market. Fastweb, which made its own offer for the assets, is appealing.

With the 3UK-O2 deal off the table, Telefonica is now looking at a straightforward float of O2 UK on the London stock exchange, with the twist that they might offer the shares to their customers first. 3K itself wants OFCOM to set a 30% spectrum cap, which would mean effectively reserving 42% of the spectrum for 3UK. BT would have to hand some back, while Vodafone would be legit, but would have to sit the next auction out.

CityFibre is appealing against OFCOM’s decision to regulate BT’s dark fibre prices. Openreach is going to let duct-and-pole customers do more work themselves - for example, by clearing any blockages they find rather than waiting for an Openreach crew. How nice of them to let their customers maintain the infrastructure!

Interesting project - Luminet and CCS are going to offer neutral hosting for small cells around London, with gigabit wireless backhaul.

BT is giving away six months of football to some new EE signups.

Here’s the Swedish 700MHz auction.

IDC cloud hardware numbers; MS, Oracle data centres; AWS cool with being a utility

IDC reckons cloud providers will spend $23bn on infrastructure this year, up 19%. Meanwhile, private cloud will account for $13.8bn, up 10%, but traditional IT infrastructure spend will be down 4.4%, although it’s still 60% of the total.

Microsoft and Oracle have been spending heavily on data centre space in Northern Virginia lately, a testament to their transition to the cloud. Interestingly, they’re both concentrating on wholesale rather than designing their own.

Data centre investment trusts have done surprisingly well post-Brexit, perhaps because their generally defensive qualities beat the specific risks.

IBM is organising a hackathon for OpenPOWER8 applications.

Amazon Web Services: the cloud is a utility and we like it like that.

Polycom is pulling out of bidding for cloud-UC specialist Mitel after a better offer came along.

Don’t forget: we’re having another leap second.

Huawei/T-Mo patent suit; VZW price rise; DISH CMO; connected car pricing

Well, that’s original - we’ve seen plenty of patent lawsuits between vendors, but we can’t remember many between vendors and carriers. Huawei is suing T-Mobile USA for allegedly violating - more properly, refusing a FRAND offer over - some Huawei patents included in 3GPP standards that seem to cover soft handoff and call continuity during network-to-network handover. Does that refer to their WiFi calling product, then?

Verizon Wireless’ new tariff is out, and they’ve increased the bundles, lowered the per-GB rates, and upped the price points. The now-traditional Twitter beef followed.

DISH has recruited the CMO it was looking for, with one Jay Roth moving from JPMorgan Chase. Apparently this heralds some sort of dramatic move, as he will be:

“an integral part of the team that changes entertainment forever as Dish enters the wireless business and becomes the only provider that can offer wireless voice, video and data”

Really? In any case, the cablecos have agreed, despite all the M&A upheaval, to keep their CableWifi alliance going. It’s now up to 500,000 hotspots. Comcast has added a lot more camera capability to Xfinity Home.

The OnStar connected-car product is coming down in price. The biggest (10GB/mo) data plan, at $40/mo, implies $4/GB pricing, while the 4GB one is right in line with T-Mobile’s $5/GB.

The FCC has put a special frequency coordination group in place for the US political conventions.

A group of mid-sized US telcos are joining AT&T’s lobbying push against the Business Data Services NPRM. Discussion here.

HPE to sell software unit; last keyboard BlackBerry; Theranos lab ban; something up at Tesla

HPE may be about to sell its proprietary software unit, including British unstructured-data star and cause celebre Autonomy. Hardware and services are growing, but software is still shrinking, and you might wonder about the classic licensing model in a world of cloud services and open-source systems. Meanwhile, the other half of HP gets a strong review for the new Spectre laptop (that’s the one you can get gold-plated).

BlackBerry is dropping the Classic at the end of the year, putting an end to the lineage of hard keyboard BlackBerries (note that the Classic was modelled on the genuinely classic 9900 Bold).

Are 2-in-1 PCs with Windows 10 killing the tablet? Here’s a tiny Windows 10 machine optimised as an IoT developer platform. And it looks like Salesforce forced Microsoft to up its bid for LinkedIn.

Theranos has been banned from operating a lab in California. Here’s what it was like to interview Elizabeth Holmes if you were in the company’s bad books.

Almost immediately, one person present told me, Boies and his team threatened legal action against the paper, accusing it of being in possession of “proprietary information” and “trade secrets.” The Theranos legal team then did their best to discredit dozens of independent sources whom Carreyrou had interviewed. The legal team roared, they showed teeth, they tried to intimidate. After a very tense five hours, the person told me that Boies and his platoon exited the newsroom, leaving behind the very serious specter of a lawsuit.

After last week’s disaster, when a self-driving Tesla failed to notice a lorry and accelerated under it, killing the driver, Elon Musk tweeted that the “top secret master plan, part 2” is coming later this week. Maybe not quite the tone? It may be something to do with Musk getting Tesla Motors to buy his SolarCity company off him, which legendary short seller Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates describes thus:

“a shameful example of corporate governance at its worst.”

Chanos, of course, is famous for going short of Enron shares. In case you wanted reassurance that there is no danger of a tech bubble, meanwhile, Amazon is building three huge greenhouse domes so its employees can have meetings in treehouses. Here’s the startup where everyone fasts for 36 hours on Mondays.

Encryption for FB Messenger; Avast buys AVG; Apple most trusted; Blackphone falls apart

Facebook Messenger is getting the same end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp. Meanwhile, it wasn’t a “Facebook glitch” that caused controversial video evidence to disappear - it was the police.

Avast buys fellow anti-virus vendor, AVG, for $1.3bn.

CableLabs reckons they have security in DOCSIS 3.1 sorted, and the big challenge is the home WiFi network.

Apple is by far the most trusted vendor on security, according to a survey of enterprise buyers. Close to 90% thought they were “good”, “very good”, or “excellent”.

smartphone-security-rankings-tech-pro-research-july-1-2016.jpgIt looks like the partnership between Geeksphone and Silent Circle, responsible for the Blackphone privacy-focused device, has fallen apart in acrimonious litigation.

Hidden audio messages in videos, addressed to Siri.

US intelligence agencies want to use wearables to spy on themselves and each other.

Over 100 malicious Tor nodes have been discovered.

Datadog got hacked.

Cryptographer Matthew Garrett buys IoT gadgets on Amazon and reviews them. In detail.

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July 7, 2016

Digital M&A and Investment Strategies

M&A and majority investment are key tools in building digital businesses. But are telcos actively investing? In our latest report we look in detail at SingTel, Telstra and Verizon, which have committed significantly to digital investment to extend their businesses. We also discuss why most European operators lag their Asia-Pac and North American peers. Our analysis is based on the newly-developed STL Partners Digital Investment Database, which tracks investments by 22 leading service providers.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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July 4, 2016

5G, Europe, the Cloud, the IoT: Telco 2.0 News Review

NTT: spectrum call this year for 5G in 2020; Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE 5G news; 3GPP sets 2018 target

Lots of 5G news this week, thanks to the conjuncture of 5G World and MWC Shanghai. NTT DoCoMo’s head of 5G, Takehiro Nakamura, says we need the spectrum position signing off this year for their planned launch in 2020. As usual, the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands are in the frame, and NTT has been testing beam-steering in the 28 recently. He reckons it will take ten years to fully “optimise” 5G, but major trials at NTT will start next year and a lot of the moving parts seem to be ready.

Qualcomm announced a prototyping platform for the 5G New Radio below 6GHz, while Nokia and Intel are working together again, with Nokia’s Intel-powered AirScale servers being used as part of an OPNFV lab and also for a demo Nokia calls the “first 5G-ready network”. On a similar theme, Vodafone and Ericsson say they have tested a “5G smart network edge”, which sounds like some sort of distributed-core, edge-computing set up with the new radios. And there was a robot. Ericsson is also trialling its equivalent product to AirScale, HDS, with Deutsche Telekom and SKT as part of a 5G network slicing demo.

ZTE says it has a “5G Cloud RAN” solution, and more interestingly, that it has an actual customer for it who’s going to deploy it in Q2 2017. It does look like 5G is going in the edge-cloud direction, especially as Huawei and Telefonica are going to be cooperating on cloud-RAN and a new core network architecture, as well as no-cells and massive IoT.

BT’s MD of mobile, Steve Haines, says 5G is all about use cases, which beats it being a journey or a behaviour. Unfortunately, Nokia CTO for mobile, Hossein Molin, thinks they’re a problem, especially the ones that aren’t just bigger, faster mobile broadband.

On the timeline, Huawei’s president of wireless R&D, Ying Weimin, says “5G won’t happen overnight” and sticks with the 2020 target. The 3GPP, for its part, says it wants to wrap up the “normative”, i.e. agenda-setting, work on the New Radio by the end of 2016 and freeze the specification by June 2018, subject to a major decision point at the RAN 75 meeting in March next year. That would meet the Korean operators’ and Verizon Wireless’ goals, and deliver the first three radio profiles (ultra-broadband, low-latency, and low-power IoT) within LTE Release 15.

3GPP-5G-timeline.jpgCableLabs, meanwhile, has filed for an STA (Special Temporary Authorisation) to test 28GHz 5G equipment around its HQ in Louisville. Plans to test coexistence between LTE-U and 5GHz WiFi have been put back by a month.

Brexit for Vodafone, data centres; DTAG sells towers, new T2 exec; TI, TEF tower deals on hold

So it happened and all. For our full Brexit coverage, try a special Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing here. Beyond that, it looks like Vodafone is seriously considering moving the HQ somewhere else; you wonder if they’d keep the network in that case.

Data-centre investors are trying to put a brave face on it, but then you would if, like Digital Realty, you’d bought five London data centres off Equinix just a few months ago (although so far, DR is doing almost as well as Equinix out of the crisis). Amazon Web Services says it’s going to open the data centre it’s building in the UK, its first, but that may just be because it’s too far advanced for dumping it to make sense. Oracle, meanwhile, has just announced a partnership with BT to sell its cloud services.

The crucial problems are first of all, that some customers (especially financial services) are likely to move out of the UK, and secondly, that the EU’s General Data Protection rules force them to move EU customers’ data, even if the company itself stays. Also, does anyone have any idea what’s happening with Privacy Shield, the follow-on from the Safe Harbour EU-US data protection agreement?

In all the excitement, the news that Telefonica has taken O2 UK off the market was barely noticed, although now that its profits are worth 15% less to TEF, surely that can’t last. They also put off selling the towerco, Telxius.

Deutsche Telekom, for its part, is looking at selling its towers in Germany for some €5bn. The carrier has also decided it needs an AT&T-like chief of technology and innovation, a Chief Telco 2.0 Officer, and existing board member Claudia Nemat gets the job. That creates a vacancy for a head of Europe, who’s been chosen but not named yet.

A buyer for Telecom Italia’s towers has dropped out, and TI seems to think he’s saying they’re out of cash?

3 and Wind are still trying to keep the merger from falling apart completely. Here’s an interview with Li Ka-shing.

SnapRoute, betting on DIY cloud; Oracle vs. HPE; Yahoo! patents; Niel in the cloud; Iranian IX

Jason Forrester, formerly Apple’s head of infrastructure, is betting on a long-term need for private clouds with his startup, SnapRoute, whose software is meant to help enterprises build their own clouds using the kind of technology Facebook pioneered through the Open Compute Project, like the Wedge100 switch.

“Most enterprise applications are highly customized for the company’s needs, which means they don’t fit neatly into the public cloud mold,” he noted. That’s why most companies’ big accounting and inventory tracking systems aren’t on a public cloud, he said. When it comes to their money-maker software, companies need “complete command and control of their infrastructure,” he noted, adding dryly that “It’s hard to have that command and control if you can’t even tour your public cloud data center.”

There’s some technical insight in this Facebook Engineering blog post. Note the presence of AT&T and SKT among others. Interestingly, Simwood has a core network refresh on, and they’re going with the SDN/white-box switch route too.

Oracle has lost another huge lawsuit after the Google one, and it’s going to have to pay HPE $3bn over their decision to dump support for the HP Itanium chips, which basically finished the technology as a major contender.

As the break-up of Yahoo! moves closer, its trove of patents is up for grabs, and one in particular is attracting a lot of interest. Their Lockport, NY data centre was designed with pods of servers in so-called chicken coops designed to maximise natural cooling, and the patents might go for as much as $1bn.

In a related story, it turns out that the scary numbers for data centre energy use from a few years back were hugely exaggerated.

Here’s Xavier Niel’s latest disruption - C14 is a cloud-based long-term archiving solution, similar to AWS Glacier, vastly cheaper.

Cloud infrastructure spending slowed down a bit, to “only” 6% growth in Q1. According to IDC it’s now 32% of total IT spending.

IBM wants to resell all the clouds.

You can now use the open-source configuration-management system Puppet to drive your Cisco IOS-XR routers.

And Iran now has three instances of the DNS K-root server, at its three new Internet exchange points.

SKT’s LoRa goes live; Sigfox x Boilers; Actility x Foxconn; NB-IoT is a standard

That was quick - SK Telecom says its LoRa network is now open for business, six months early, with 99% population coverage, for just $87m. SKT is giving away 100,000 free LoRa modules for developers to fiddle with, and hopes to have 20 of its own apps going by the end of the year. First up are a “shared parking service” and, intriguingly, “manhole management”. Pricing is low - basic data acquisition (e.g. gas meters) is $0.30 per device, two-way is $1.75.

Sigfox, meanwhile, has signed up a French boiler manufacturer as a customer. That gets them 100,000 boilers, but more importantly, it gets them in with the Bosch Group, a huge force in engineering.

Actility is deploying its platform in China, with Foxconn as a strategic partner.

Amid all this, it seems a bit irrelevant, but the 3GPP has signed off NB-IoT as part of LTE R13, aka LTE-A Pro, both in its LTE eMTC flavour and its EC-GSM flavour, and Ericsson claims the first demo.

Sprint: Arora interview, new prepaid boss; 600MHz price tag; VZW sells smartphone bonds; Comcast IPv6

Sprint management has been out pressing the flesh, pushing the message on the analysts. Apparently it’s carrying more “tonnage per subscriber” than any other network, and yet they’ve only used 25% of their spectrum, without any measurable congestion. That might be true, because a lot of it isn’t readily usable without a complicated small cell rollout.

RootMetrics’ latest test campaign….disagrees, putting Verizon Wireless way ahead, and interestingly, showing T-Mobile closing in on AT&T in 2nd place.

Nikesh Arora gave an interview to Fortune on his way out of Sprint, and it turns out that Sprint is meant to be one of the “operating” businesses, throwing off cash that gets reused in the “investing” businesses.

SoftBank has a two-part strategy—one is the operating assets, which in the long term are supposed to generate cash flow and that cash flow is supposed to feed into the investing assets. The operating assets include SoftBank Mobile, Sprint, which is not producing cash flow at the moment but the hope is that it will, and the bright star, which is Yahoo Japan. The cash flow from those assets and sales of investment assets generate liquidity to invest more. That’s the broad strategy.


Ah well. Meanwhile, Sprint has a new chief of prepaid and wholesale, ex-Ntelos CEO Jim Hyde. The carrier could do with that - prepaid churn hit 5.65% in Q1, higher than Leap Wireless when it exited the market.

The first phase of the 600MHz auction is done, in which the TV stations that currently have the spectrum do a reverse auction to determine how much money they’d want to relinquish it. The total? $86bn for some 126MHz. This may be too much for the wireless operators unless a new entrant - e.g. a cableco - came in, and in that case, the FCC might run a second stage of the auction later this year.

Verizon is looking at securitising its smartphone instalment plan cashflows, rather like Sprint did. This certainly suggests it is rounding up financing for something - even before the 600MHz auction, there’s the Yahoo! bid to think about.

The FCC is linking its Business Data Services consultation - the rebranded Special Access - to 5G, arguing that there’s a need for more competition if we’re going to get the backhaul 5G will need. AT&T has lined up with Centurylink and the cablecos against Verizon’s proposal on the issue, abandoning the long-time lobbying alliance between the two RBOCs, while Level(3) supports Verizon.

Comcast has set a target to get to 50% IPv6 by the end of the year. It already has a full dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 solution across the network, but there are still old STBs that don’t support IPv6 and a few content providers who can’t serve it.

Having bought Cablevision, it looks like Altice is going to turn off their Freewheel VoWLAN service.

And Videotron has launched its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit service.

Who didn’t buy LinkedIn? Google Gadget; Apple/Spotify row; killer self-driving car; Facebook tries even fewer ads

It turns out that Salesforce, Facebook, and Google all seriously considered buying LinkedIn, to the extent of having talks with management and carrying out fairly extensive due diligence. But they all passed it up.

Apparently, Google might be preparing a “Google-branded smartphone”. This would be something beyond the Nexus model, more like the Pixel C tablet, much more a “Google plus an ODM” model.

Apple, meanwhile, is buying Jay-Z’s streaming app, Tidal, and true to his example, getting in an overly dramatic beef, with Spotify. Apple has turned down an update to the Spotify app for iOS on the grounds that it sends you to Spotify’s website to sign in and pay your money, rather than using in-app purchasing, and therefore denies Apple its cut.

Here’s an interesting conversation about Apple’s decision to open up the iOS dialer app. Did Cisco do the API?

And here’s the low-down on the extensive changes to iOS and MacOS networking.

The first ever fatality with a self-driving car has occurred, after the car failed to distinguish a white lorry from the bright sky and accelerated under it. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the accident rate is still much lower than for cars in general, but interestingly, if you exclude drink-drive incidents, this implies it’s quite a lot higher. Also, Tesla is behind on its production target.

Facebook is tweaking the Newsfeed again, supposedly to increase the percentage of stories from your friends, or in other words, to ration ad inventory and drive up its margins.

Here’s a really cute robot. Do we detect a trace of Bigtrak in the design?

And Linksys is still selling millions of its iconic WRT54GL routers every year, although they long since fell behind the WiFi state of the art. Why? They run open-source firmware, they’re cheap, they’re robust, and they stack.

China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo 4G updates; LG G5 “failed”; AIS gets Jas’s 900MHz; Telstra outages

China Mobile says it will have 500 million 4G users by the end of the year, or penetration of 60% three years from launch. It’s at 409 million or roughly 50% at the moment. By then, 90% of their data traffic will be on 4G. To get there, it intends to install another 100,000 eNode-Bs for a total of 1.4m.

NTT DoCoMo will be adding another LTE carrier later this year, aiming for 375Mbps by their year-end (i.e. March), before pushing on to 500Mbps for “Premium LTE” customers later next year.

LG has set up a “program management office” to take charge of its smartphone operation, with the withering explanation that:

“Friday’s announcement is because LG Electronics’ latest flagship G5 smartphone failed to generate sales”


The fall-out of Thailand’s 900MHz refarming is done with - Jas Mobile, the new entrant that won a block of 900MHz with clearance to deploy 4G but failed to make the down payment, has paid a $23.2m fine, and market leader AIS has ended up with the spectrum. Perhaps it was always meant to happen like that, or is that too cynical?

And Telstra is down again.

Android FDE hacked; Symantec virus scanner hacked, by e-mail; securing 5G

An exploit has been discovered that permits an attacker to break the full-disk encryption in Android 5.0 and above, on Qualcomm Snapdragon devices - i.e. a large majority of them.

It’s possible to hack some Symantec security apps just by sending an infected e-mail - you don’t even need to trick the user into opening it, the attack happens in the virus-scanning process.

Here are some interesting presentations on 5G security.

Also from the 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog, EE’s vision of an ultra-reliable network. It’s not ultra-reliable if you don’t pay the bill, though.

Medical people constantly have to defeat their own information security to do their job.

How MNOs work with prisons to deploy IMSI catchers.

And the botnet that’s made out of CCTV cameras.

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