Celtic-Plus Seeks to Mine Gigabit Access Speeds from Copper with GOLD Project

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Celtic-Plus, a research initiative composed of operators, fixed access systems and CPE vendors, chipset suppliers, and two universities, has initiated its “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” project, or GOLD, to develop copper-based multi-gigabit fixed access solutions based on the G.fast standard.
  • The GOLD initiative demonstrates that telco operators are clearly still interested in “sweating” their copper network assets to the greatest extent possible, again highlighting the fact that full-fiber FTTH networks are still too expensive, at least within the current EU regulatory environment.

Last week, Celtic-Plus, a European research initiative, announced a new project: “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” (GOLD). The goal of the GOLD project is to leverage the newly-minted G.fast standard – which itself is designed to support up to 1 Gigabit (aggregate) connections to end users – to enable operators to expand their ultra-broadband networking capabilities to include multi-gigabit services over last-run access copper. This will be achieved by using the next proposed step in the G.fast standard, presumably, the 212 MHz frequency (the current standard is based on a maximum frequency of 106 MHz). The GOLD project, which started in January 2015, will run for three full years, finishing in December 2017. The GOLD consortium participants are listed below: Read more of this post

4KTV: Are Operators and Their Networks Ready? Not Just Yet

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite the hype surrounding 4K/UHD TV/video, the fact is that most broadband networks are not yet capable of supporting broadcast-quality 4K services, according to Akamai and other industry sources.
  • While new access network technologies, and new architectures, will enable the delivery of 4K TV/video, including linear, multichannel services, we are still several years away from 4K becoming a mass-market reality.

Several months ago on Twitter, prompted by a tweet announcing “Panasonic’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player could make discs matter again,” I replied, “#4K #Bluray memory space on current discs can be solved by #Laserdisc/LP-sized format (!), but it will never happen.” For those of us that spent a good portion of our youth enjoying music via vinyl records played on turntables, a return to a 12-inch (30-cm) laserdisc-sized physical format would certainly be a blast from the past. Some of us might even enjoy the novelty of such a now-massive format. Of course, this proved a far-fetched pipedream, as evolving, multi-layer technology will enable the continuing usage of the existing CD/DVD/Blu-ray-sized format. Read more of this post

CSG International: Can Its CSG Ascendon Platform Drive the Ascent of Operator Digital Services?

Ron Westfall

Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

• CSG International purpose-developed its CSG Ascendon platform to enable operators, content providers, and retailers to transform their operations to improve the pursuit and targeting of rapidly expanding digital services opportunities.

• By focusing more on the cloud/SaaS security credentials of the Ascendon platform, including the potential acquisition of cloud security broker technology, CSG International can further differentiate its new digital services platform against a sea of competitive alternatives.

CSG International developed its CSG Ascendon platform to enable operators to capitalize on burgeoning digital services opportunities. The CSG Ascendon platform is designed to support an overlay framework that enables operators to identify, analyze and scale existing and new digital services. The platform offers cloud-based consumer profiles, preferences, digital entitlements, e-wallet and payment options to drive operator differentiation of their digital service plans. The Ascendon platform benefits from CSG’s SaaS service support resources and deployment experience to address operator concerns related to the adoption and integration of new digital services technology.

The CSG Ascendon platform must contend against a plethora of rival digital service platform competition including offerings from systems integrators, infrastructure vendors, and OSS/BSS suppliers. What platform attributes enable CSG International to differentiate its Ascendon offering?:

Configuration Flexibility: The CSG Ascendon platform offers four solution configuration options that combine its BSS assets and content management products into a single integrated platform. As a result, the platform can drive operator digital services goals related to the building and monetizing of new digital customer relationships, extending order management to third-party digital commerce products, integrating policy control into all digital services flows, and supporting overall business transformation objectives. Few digital service platform rivals can match the CSG Ascendon platform’s configuration range and flexibility.

Digital Services Deployment Experience: CSG International can tout its deployment track record within a wide variety of digital services environments, including Comcast XFINITY On Campus, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment and ESPN digital services implementations. Due to its systems integration heritage and diverse digital services channels, CSG International gains a leg up against solutions that lack equivalent digital services experience backgrounds, especially within non-operator environments such as retailer and content provider networks.

With the CSG Ascendon platform targeting burgeoning operator investment in digital services build-outs, what moves can CSG International make to advance its attractiveness to meeting operator digital services concerns?:

SaaS Security: Operators consistently identify cloud security as the single most important potential impediment to accelerated adoption of SaaS implementations such as Ascendon. While the infrastructure side of the operator’s SaaS implementation can deliver nearly foolproof security assurances, individual users of SaaS apps typically lack appropriate security controls that minimize risk. This includes vulnerability to phishing and other attack techniques that can compromise digital content and services. The lack of a distinct security component somewhat dilutes the Ascendon platform’s overall digital services enablement virtues.

Acquire Cloud Security Specialists: As part of the Ascendon proposition, CSG should consider proactively guiding operator outreach endeavors to educate users on best practices for avoiding security breaches. Moreover CSG needs to consider acquiring a cloud access security broker specialist, such as Skyhigh Networks or Netskope, to burnish its cloud security credentials. Such a move can ease integration of cloud security with operator policies, using technology purpose-built for cloud environments and thus avoid stretching security platforms designed for enterprise or on-premise settings.

Overall, CSG commands the portfolio and channel resources to play a major role in using the CSG Ascendon platform to drive operator as well as retailer and content provider adoption, and scaling of digital services. With a robust security offering and message in place upfront, the CSG Ascendon platform can become a more compelling solution for operators to select in steering the ascent of their digital services packages.

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ZTE: Method Behind OSS Transformation Projects Insightful, but Needs Analytics and Swapping Refresh

Ron Westfall

Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

  • ZTE employs its “Method for ZTE OSS Projects”, which includes consulting, OSS swapping, OSS improvement, and managed service optimization components to address evolving operator OSS transformation demands.
  • ZTE needs to accent BDA/analytics integration capabilities, while also producing OSS swapping use cases, to improve its prospects in driving more operator adoption of its OSS proposition.

ZTE advances its “Method for ZTE OSS Projects” as needed by operators to meet their OSS transformation ends. The ZTE OSS project methodology includes consulting, OSS improvement, OSS swapping, and managed service optimization components. The components all use ZTE portfolio assets including unified managed services, tools to visualize OSS processes and data, and transparency across management of the entire network to meet operator OSS transformation demands according to their specific needs. Read more of this post

Cisco’s OFC 2015 Coup – More Opportunity in Transport than Just Packet-Optical

Rick Talbot

Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

• Optical networking vendors strive to understand the selections network operators make for next-generation optical infrastructure.

• Sometimes, these decisions can be based on more than the ultra-high-capacity optical network elements.

Much of the buzz going into last week’s OFC 2015 in Los Angeles was the opportunity provided by data center growth and, particularly, the opportunity for optical transport vendors to profit from the rapid growth of data center interconnection (DCI) traffic. However, once the show got started, Verizon captured the crowd’s attention by announcing its intent to modernize its metro optical network using scalable, packet-optimized transport solutions (including 100G flexible CDC ROADMs) from Ciena and Cisco. Ciena’s selection was somewhat expected, based on its prior 100G work with Verizon, but Cisco surprisingly usurped two incumbent metro optical vendors (Coriant and Fujitsu Network Communications) to land the second selection. The question at the conference was, “How did they do that?”

Any consideration of how a vendor would win an operator’s business should be based on the value that vendor could bring to the operator, and that value, in turn, is tied to the needs of the operator. Yes, Verizon can benefit from agile 100G (and higher) optical networking, but a focus strictly on that backbone portion of the network overlooks a much bigger challenge for an operator, particularly Verizon. This operator provides tens of thousands of T1 services, and it employs additional many more T1 lines to support a myriad of other legacy services. The challenge for Verizon is that it supports these T1-based connections with a legacy infrastructure (e.g., multi-service provisioning platforms – MSPPs) that has been largely bypassed in recent packet-based platforms. Verizon knows that the network will ultimately evolve to all-packet, but how does it continue to support its very significant base of legacy connections (T1s, T3s, OC-3s, etc.) while transitioning the network to all-packet? One practical solution (and perhaps a superior one) is to convert the legacy connections to packet flows with a process such as circuit emulation.

Circuit emulation has been employed in many networks over the past decade to packetize miscellaneous TDM connections (baseband, PDH and SONET/SDH) for transport in all-packet networks. However, these solutions have generally addressed the minority of a network’s connections; the process has usually been expensive and has typically not scaled well. Thus, even though circuit emulation performs the function needed by the incumbent wireline network operators (like Verizon’s wireline operations), it has proven impractical to employ in the massive scale required. However, if a network systems vendor could propose a solution that would support massive scale – cost-effectively and requiring minimal space and power – that vendor would be meeting a vital need of the operator, thereby positioning itself to win a considerable portion of the operator’s metro business. As it so happens, Cisco is quite experienced in the technology, and it claims that circuit emulation was included in its proposal to Verizon.

In the end, only Verizon knows the real reasons it selected Ciena and Cisco to supply its next-generation metro optical network. However, as vendors inevitably attempt to ascertain the likely reasons, they should not limit their evaluation to simply the “sexy” (for the optical transport industry) ultra-high-capacity optical network elements. The solution may lie in the much more mundane conversion of legacy connections into packets.

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IBM: Can New Network Innovation Centers Drive Operator Adoption of SDN, Virtualization and Analytics-Driven Automation?

Ron Westfall

Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

• IBM unveiled the opening of two new Network Innovation Centers in Nice, France and Dallas, Texas, designed for operators and large enterprises to test SDN, virtualization and analytics-driven automation technologies for easing adoption of cloud models.

• After recent restructurings reduced its telco portfolio assets, IBM faces channel challenges in convincing operators that its innovation centers will prove essential in testing the orchestration and automation between their various IT systems and network infrastructure platforms.

IBM launched two new Network Innovation Centers, designed to address operator and large enterprise testing of SDN, virtualization and analytics-driven automation technologies, to ease the adoption of cloud models for driving their IT and network transformation objectives. Lab participants can vet solutions for capabilities such as automated and dynamic network resource management in support of burgeoning data applications such as Internet of Things (IoT), online transactions, social media, and mobile apps. Read more of this post

InfoVista: Can the VistaNEO Solution Advance Mobile Network Experience Optimization?

Ron Westfall

Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

  • InfoVista introduced its VistaNEO solution that targets growing operator demand to use geo-analysis of subscriber and network experience to advance QoS management and actionable insight.
  • InfoVista can improve the VistaNEO proposition by forming alliances with geo-location specialists, such as Polaris Wireless, to improve device location inputs and address policy control interworking concerns.

At Mobile World Congress 2015, InfoVista introduced its VistaNEO solution designed to extend geo-analytics of subscriber and network experience to improve operator management of network and service quality at the subscriber level. The solution targets the RAN engineering, optimization, and troubleshooting teams of operators with the goal of reducing customer churn and defending existing revenue streams. VistaNEO automates the collection and post-processing of subscriber-centered call detail records to aid operator analysis of QoS over temporal and spatial dimensions. Read more of this post