Nokia Enables NBN’s Nationwide Broadband Goals: A Snapshot from Down Under

Erik Keith - Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is on the path to fulfilling its namesake, i.e., bringing broadband connectivity to all of Australia, over copper, fiber and cable wireline networks, as well as fixed wireless and satellite networks for remote locations (e.g., the Outback).

• Nokia is providing the majority of NBN’s fixed access networking systems. As such, NBN is a showcase customer for Nokia while also serving as an example of how nationwide broadband can be achieved leveraging multiple access technologies.

The first day of September, coincidentally the first day of spring in Australia, NBN hosted a field trip for analysts and journalists in the outskirts of Brisbane, Queensland. The field trip was preceded by Nokia’s Fixed Networks Global Analyst Conference, as well as a press and analyst briefing with NBN in Sydney. NBN’s goal is to connect every Australian premise by 2020, with a minimum broadband bandwidth of 25 Mbps downstream/5 Mbps upstream. Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world, with a land area of 7.6 million square kilometers (2.9 million square miles), roughly the same size as the contiguous U.S. However, Australia’s population of 24 million is concentrated primarily on the continent’s east and southern coasts, in the metro areas of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, correlating respectively to the ctates of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. NBN is overbuilding and supplementing the existing Telstra network, and provides an open access model, allowing multiple, competing service providers to deliver value-added services such as pay-TV over the network.

The first, short stop was at Telstra’s Redland Bay Exchange, where NBN’s ultra-broadband gear supplements the existing Telstra network from a separate, smaller building. This exchange serves 3,013 premises, with 21% of end users served by FTTP (640 premises), and 79% served by FTTN (2,373 premises). The Redland Bay Exchange, or 4RED-01 Service Area Module (SAM) in NBN parlance, began construction in September 2015 and is scheduled for completion in October 2016.

The second stop on the field trip was in Redland Bay’s Orchard Beach Estate, at what NBN officials described as “the most photographed cabinet in Australia” (see the picture below). Orchard Beach is a 15-year old housing estate composed of relatively high-end single family houses; NBN is serving all of the premises in the estate with a single FTTN cabinet. Leveraging short copper loops, most of the end users in the estate have connection speeds of 100 Mbps downstream and 40 Mbps upstream. In this location, NBN is utilizing Nokia’s well-proven ISAM gear, specifically, a fiber-fed cabinet with vectored VDSL2 to subscribers. The FTTN architecture proved to be the most appealing option for NBN in this location, in terms of both time-to-market and cost.

Orchard Beach Estate, Redland Bay: Outdoor Cabinet with FTTN. Photo by Current Analysis

The third stop on the field trip illustrated a rather unusual situation faced by NBN – applicable to many operators throughout the world. This is where FTTP and FTTdp (fiber-to-the-drop-point) are actually more cost-effective than FTTN solutions. Stop two was literally on the side of the road, specifically, Double Jump Road, adjacent to several farms with lead-ins (driveways) of 270 to 300 meters. Costs for building an FTTH cabinet in this location would have included $200,000 (Australian) just to get power to the cabinet, and an additional 16 weeks. Instead, NBN spent $120,000 to deliver FTTP connections to just three premises. FTTdp solutions will also be leveraged to serve other Double Jump Road customers.

The fourth site visited on the field trip was not a stop, but a moving (bus) tour of the Ridgewood Downs acreage estate (i.e., each house situated on at least 1.5 acres). As with Double Jump Road, the cost of deploying 300 copper-based micro-nodes was actually higher than FTTP. But to be clear, the FTTP implementation was still extremely expensive, with NBN spending “substantially higher” amounts than the $4,400 average per residence for brownfield FTTP connections.

The final site visit on the tour was Mount Cotton. After a brief stop at the base of the mountain to view a FTTN micro-node pedestal, we boarded four-wheel drive Toyotas for the steep drive up to the summit. The Mount Cotton project highlights the extreme measures NBN must go to in order to fulfill its mission. While not an extremely remote location (only 34 km/21 miles outside of Brisbane), pulling fiber up and over the mountain still represented a major civil works project, with the end result of bringing fixed broadband connections to Mount Cotton area residents for the first time. As NBN pointed out, in many countries, the low population density and relatively rough terrain of areas like Mount Cotton would simply be ignored by operators.

Mount Cotton summit: NBN officials highlighting challenges of bringing fiber up and over the mountain. Photo by Current Analysis

So, what conclusions can be drawn from the NBN field trip? First, despite the concentration of the majority of Australia’s population into major metro and coastal areas, there are still massive hurdles to overcome in delivering broadband to every single premise. NBN (and the Australian government, which is funding NBN) are to be commended for remaining committed to the end game goal. While some press and industry luminaries have been pointing to the fiber-rich deployments in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan as “the way things should be” in the rest of the world, these countries are polar opposites of Australia in terms of deployment landscape (small land masses coupled with very high population densities). Second, while hybrid fiber/copper – as well as hybrid fiber/coax – can deliver FTTP-speed connections to many premises cost-effectively, there are still going to customer premises/locations that are better served by FTTP, especially as a long-term investment. Finally, systems vendors like Nokia remain critical enablers in the ultra-broadband equation. Nokia (via the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs) delivers vectoring, phantom mode, G.fast, XG-FAST, and XG-Cable to the market. This includes the evolving array of FTTP technologies with the NBN network buildout providing a well-suited showcase for Nokia’s ultra-broadband portfolio.

Telefónica’s End-to-End Digitalization: How Can Suppliers Capitalize on Operator Digital Strategies?

Ron Westfall - Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • In September, Telefónica Global CIO Phil Jordan outlined Telefónica’s end-to-end digitalization strategy that focuses on both how it interacts with customers and how it can make internal operations more efficient. The strategy requires digitalization in the front that spans the customer-facing omni-channel spectrum; and digitalization in the back that fundamentally streamlines its organization and operational processes.
  • The Telefónica approach provides a strong checklist of digital transformation demands that OSS/BSS suppliers must meet in order to deepen their operator relationships. Without an end-to-end digital platform offering, OSS/BSS suppliers risk becoming sidelined in operator digital transformation journeys.

At the Amdocs Digital Executive Summit during the 2016 CTIA Super Mobility show, Telefónica Global CIO Phil Jordan provided a view of Telefónica’s end-to-end (E2E) digitalization strategy and vision. Telefónica recognizes that the emerging competitive pressures within the digital services landscape require operators to transform their business models and operations; in other words, ‘do or die.’ For Telefónica, these competitive pressures include growing competition from Google Fiber; satellite TV provider Sky, which plans to offer mobile service in the UK later in 2016 (ironically on Telefónica’s O2 network); other new MVNOs such as Dixons Carphone; OTT substitutes including public WiFi, Skype, and Facebook Messenger; and the evolving digital strategies of traditional telco rivals. This trend has compelled Telefónica to adapt its operational and business processes in order to scale and keep pace with the demand curve of digital customers. Read more of this post

What Does ‘5G-Ready’ Mean for Mobile Operators?

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Network equipment vendors have been pushing mobile operators to begin evolving their LTE networks toward 5G for some time.
  • Though vendors have their own reasons for this push, operators have several reasons to heed their advice.
  • At the same time, operators do need to avoid moving too early toward 5G.

For some time now, vendors of mobile access infrastructure have been urging operators to start evolving their networks toward 5G, well in advance of the technology being concretely defined.

Read more of this post

600 MHz Incentive Auction Spectrum: 5G or Not 5G, That’s a Big Question

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Among the unknowns surrounding the 600 MHz incentive auction, the question of what technology will get deployed in the spectrum is dividing the industry.
  • Technology providers need to settle on a consistent, external message in order to ensure the industry moves forward along with their own priorities.

Not surprisingly, the FCC’s ongoing, 600 MHz incentive auction was a frequent topic of conversation at CTIA’s Super Mobility Week this year. Where any operator actively involved in the auction wasn’t allowed to talk about it, everyone else was free to discuss anything from how long it might go on to who might win and how much they’d end up paying. One question, however, seemed to generate more debate than any other: what technology – LTE or 5G – would eventually get deployed in the spectrum? Read more of this post

OpenStack Summit 2016: Netronome Offers Scalable Zero-Trust Security and Higher-Performance Connectivity with New 25G Adapter

Glen Hunt - Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Increased east-west server-to-server data center traffic leaves traditional perimeter defense mechanisms challenged to provide adequate trust and privileges for virtual machines (VMs) while current zero-trust mechanisms consume valuable server resources.
  • Netronome’s new Agilio CX intelligent server adapter promises to deliver 25 Gbps of throughput; integration with Open vSwitch firewall and Mirantis OpenStack delivers the benefits of hardware acceleration and improved VM performance.

At the August 2016 OpenStack Summit, Netronome announced enhancements to its Agilio Server Networking Platform with the introduction of the Agilio CX dual-port 25GbE intelligent server adapter (ISA) and Agilio OVS Firewall software. The new platform is integrated with the Mirantis OpenStack solution, with the goal of easing cloud-based provisioning, and promises to improve performance and scale when implementing Linux Firewall-based as well as zero-trust security using OpenStack security groups. As service providers migrate their infrastructures to a data center model to meet growing demands for cloud-based services, issues such as scale and security increase ever more. Read more of this post

NFV MANO Standardization: Becoming an Ever More Public Affair

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T’s decision to open source ECOMP and its selection of Amdocs as a partner illustrate that traditional standardization by cooperation behind closed doors is being superseded by public and open initiatives.
  • The number of operator-vendor-open source combinations for NFV MANO continues to increase. A shakeout is both inevitable and necessary to bring about multi-vendor VNF interoperability.

The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) market doesn’t take a break, even during the summer holiday season. The news that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” has highlighted the unusual ecosystem dynamics of NFV and the MANO ecosystem in particular. Rather than the usual press release format, where a vendor touts the fact that an operator has selected or deployed its solution, here we have an operator, a vendor and a yet unnamed open source software community all working together towards producing a solution which, it is hoped, will be adopted by all other operators.

Maybe, though, this isn’t quite as new as it seems. Read more of this post

AT&T, Amdocs & Open Source ECOMP: Opening Pandora’s Box

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • AT&T’s selection of Amdocs as integrator for its ECOMP platform has taken the market by surprise, although there have been indicators of collaboration between the two companies for several months.
  • Endowing Amdocs with the responsibility for managing ECOMP within an open source MANO group poses a risk that other vendors may shy away from contributing their software.

The news last week that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” seems to have met with relatively little market reaction. This may be due to something as mundane as the fact that this is the holiday season or perhaps that the many players in the NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) ecosystem are still digesting the impact of such news. From the Current Analysis perspective, we see AT&T’s move as very significant as our intelligence alert “AT&T Gives Amdocs a Key Role in Plotting ECOMP World Domination” indicates. Read more of this post