Nokia Brings the Family Jewels (FPcx) to the Access Network – Raises Expectations

Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst
Summary Bullets:

• Operators are challenged to build access networks that transition from the 1G era to meet 10/100/400G service expectations. It is not only a bandwidth issue, but one of sustainability, flexibility, and the adaptability to deliver 5G services.

• Nokia’s move to adapt its FPcx silicon to fuel a new range of access and aggregation routers elevates the access layer as an integral part of the intelligent network and changes the game.

The access and aggregation routers of the past were based on platforms designed to deliver effective access and aggregation services for 1G to 10G services. Most were based on merchant silicon, which hosted a vendor’s network operating system and networking features, including platforms such as Nokia’s 7250 IXR. In contrast, the higher-scale IP services edge and IP core have been based on proprietary silicon, which delivered high-scale switching capacity, rich telemetry, and programmability needed to meet automate and meet stringent performance, power, and security requirements. The use of merchant silicon was widely adopted by equipment vendors to deliver solutions that kept pace with market demands, and a few vendors also leveraged programmable silicon such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Part of the draw for merchant silicon was driven by operators who desired to minimize vendor dependance – i.e., the white box era.

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Verizon Explores P2MP mmWave – A Bright but Not-so-New Idea

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Verizon recently announced that it has tested point-to-multipoint (P2MP) millimeter wave (mmWave) radio for providing broadband to multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in urban areas.

• The idea is good, but practical issues abound – a startup ISP Starry, which fielded a similar solution to lackluster response, is just emerging from Chapter 11 restructuring.

In its bid to make the process of expanding its broadband footprint more efficient, Verizon announced it has tested a new use case for its mmWave network in Texas (US). In the proof of concept, a centralized rooftop radio site (“donor” cell) was connected to a radio atop a simulated MDU with multiple endpoints requiring separate broadband connections. The signal was then transmitted via coaxial cable to a data processing unit equipped with a corresponding modem. The building’s existing wiring was used to transport the signal to end-user routers that provide broadband coverage to endpoint devices. Unlike “traditional” FWA, the solution uses a simplified broadband network gateway (BNG) instead of the company’s 4G and 5G core – Verizon claims this allows for “excellent” latency and capacity while reducing the load on the CSPs 4G and 5G mobile cores.

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MWC23 Shanghai Showcases RAN Vendors Eager to Usher in 5G-Advanced

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• 5G-Advanced and energy efficiency were two prominent themes among RAN vendors at MWC Shanghai.

• ZTE introduced a new offering for private networks that features integrated RAN and core functions.

In June 2023, Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai celebrated its 10th anniversary as an Asian counterpart to the MWC held annually in Barcelona, Spain. As usual, China’s two biggest RAN vendors, Huawei and ZTE, loomed large over the proceedings, but neither vendor made major new RAN product announcements at the show.

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RedCap is About to Get a Boost from 5G-Advanced

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Advances in reduced capability (RedCap) technology could help operators monetize 5G by enabling IoT use cases.

• RedCap commercialization is set to increase in 2023 on both the network and device side, establishing the ecosystem needed to support new businesses.

As a marketing term, ‘reduced capability’ technology may not sound inherently enticing, but the technology is designed to help bring to life a diverse array of IoT use cases that could bring much-needed monetization possibilities to 5G networks.

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Ericsson Aims to Give Operators More vRAN Options with AMD, Dell Deals

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Ericsson announced a deal to include Dell servers in its cloud RAN solution, giving operators more choice in virtual RAN sourcing.

• Ericsson also announced a collaboration with chip maker AMD aimed at improving vRAN performance.

Ericsson announced two partnerships last week to help diversify its virtual RAN offerings.

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Jio’s Acquisition of Mimosa is Another Sign of Indian Telecom Transformation

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Radisys, a RAN software provider owned by India’s Reliance Industries, is acquiring Mimosa Networks, which supplies fixed-wireless gear to Reliance’s mobile operator Jio.

• Both private and public investment dedicated to securing India’s telecom independence is surging in India as the country rolls out 5G.

Roughly four years after it acquired the company in late-2018, radio access networking (RAN) vendor Airspan recently announced it has agreed to sell Mimosa Networks, its fixed-wireless unit, to Radisys, a RAN software provider owned by Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, for $60 million. In 2022, Mimosa reported about $25 million in revenue.

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Intel’s New Chips with Integrated Accelerators Could Boost vRAN Performance Enough to Spur Disruption

Summary Bullets:

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

• Intel’s new system-on-a-chip (SoC) features integrated accelerators, which help close the performance gap between virtual RAN (vRAN) and traditional RAN. Thus far, accelerators have been offered as separate hardware cards.

• Rakuten Symphony’s plans to offer a vDU based on the new SoC, following the availability of Qualcomm’s new accelerator and Juniper’s recent move to give away its RAN Intelligent Controller, show vRAN momentum building.

Recently, vRAN vendor Rakuten Symphony revealed plans to produce a virtual distributed baseband unit (vDU) based on new Intel SoC, due in 2023, whose accelerator is integrated with the CPU rather than being offered as a separate hardware card. This represents a departure from the status quo (accelerators as separate hardware cards), but the two vendors say it also addresses a key obstacle that has been holding vRAN back.

Eutelsat and OneWeb: Can LEO+GEO Combination Compete with Starlink?

Summary Bullets:

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst
  • The Eutelsat and OneWeb merger brings two operators’ satellite constellations together, promising to combine strengths of 36 Eutelsat GEO satellites with OneWeb’s 648-strong LEO constellation.
  • Orchestrating services by utilizing both constellations will represent a significant network management challenge and an industry first.

The announced Eutelsat-OneWeb merger claims to be the world’s first combination of geostationary orbit (GEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations, creating an opportunity to utilize the advantages of both to address the growing market for satellite connectivity. The announcement mentions intentions of creating a single GEO/LEO services platform over time, which will provide services to customers using hybrid terminals. The intention of the merger makes sense conceptually: GEO platforms will provide superior per-unit capacity and compelling economics, while LEO satellites will provide ubiquitous coverage and low latency.

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The FCC-Proposed Faster Broadband Spells Tectonic Changes for US Broadband Ecosystem

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • US FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed raising the national standard for broadband speeds to 100 Mbps/20 Mbps and resetting the long-term goal to 1 Gbps/500 Mbps (upload/download).
  • The speeds proposed would mean the end of a practical lifetime for legacy technologies like xDSL and earlier generations of cable, while opening a way for FWA and satellite broadband, especially in rural areas of the US.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s proposal still needs to be accepted by the bipartisan FCC. Once accepted, the national standard would likely be tied with access to federal funding for broadband development, which was boosted recently as a part of wider US government infrastructure investment program. As such, it would become a de facto standard in parts of the US, benefiting predominantly rural and sparsely populated areas where internet speeds slower than the proposed 100 Mbps/20 Mbps are still the norm.

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Network Automation (2.0) Takes on Service Assurance Challenges

Summary Bullets:

Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst
  • Automated network service provisioning (via SDN technologies) is an established industry norm; however, dealing with service quality assurance requires advanced capabilities such as real-time network visualization, multi-factor path computation, and the ability to dynamically handle high-scale network variations.
  • Service assurance benefits include optimization of network resources, increased revenue potential, and reduced operational costs, among others; achieving these objectives can yield significant operational efficiency and improved quality of experience for end users.

Operators continue to invest and scale their IP and transport networks to meet growing capacity and new use cases demands, and the need to expand automated network management beyond network element and service provisioning, as well as begin to address service assurance, has become a top priority. Experience has shown that today’s highly complex and dynamic networks rely on automation as the key to successfully delivering high-quality services. In the two most recent networking conferences (i.e., MWC 22 and MPLS SD & AI Net World), network automation demonstrations and proof of concept (PoC) presentations by vendors and network operators alike were front and center and show promise when addressing service quality assurance.

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