LiFi Verging Ever Closer to Reality

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Investments by numerous vendors over the past few years in ‘LiFi’ are resulting in meaningful progress in 2018. A trial announced by Philips Lighting in March represents a huge endorsement.
  • While the technology remains several years away from commercial products, LiFi represents a truly disruptive technology that could augment traditional cellular and WiFi.

News flash: With seemingly insatiable customer demand for high-speed data and streaming video, network operators are increasingly concerned about how they can keep pace. And much of that concern centers on ‘bandwidth.’ Traditional cellular radio technologies are constrained, and operators and regulators are scrambling to find new spectrum on which to provide service, particularly with the 5G era looming. WiFi provides an effective tool to extend cellular or fixed coverage into homes and businesses, but it is difficult to seamlessly integrate into other networks and is racked with security vulnerabilities. Continue reading “LiFi Verging Ever Closer to Reality”

Operator Resistance to Automation is Slowly Breaking Down, Especially in Security

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Cisco’s new Cybersecurity Report shows that networks are facing an increasing level of threat from a growing number of threat sources, and attacks from malicious actors are getting more sophisticated.
  • Now enterprises and communication service providers need to embrace analytics, automation and artificial intelligence to help identify threats and mitigate damage from attacks.

A new Cybersecurity Report from Cisco reveals some scary statistics that confirm what most public network operators – AT&T, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Comcast and the like – already know  too well – network security is leaky, getting more so, and the attacks are coming from more “threat vectors” than ever. And public network operators – which are perhaps the most vulnerable targets given their access to millions of enterprises and consumers – need to engage in a never-ending battle to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. That, in turn, means CTOs and security executives will need to move much more aggressively on the three “As” – analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation – in order to prevent breaches, mitigate damage, protect sensitive customer data.

The Cisco report calls out a few of the concerning proof points:

  • Malicious e-mail and spam remain as key points of vulnerability since they deliver malware directly to end devices such as smartphones and laptops at the click of a button.
  • The incidence of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks is growing – 42% of organizations reported this kind of attack in 2017 – and the attacks are doing more damage and getting harder to root out.
  • Encryption is growing as a way to ensure web traffic remains secure, with 50% of web traffic encrypted in November 2017, up from just 38% the year before. Unfortunately, malicious actors are also getting better at using encryption to conceal malicious code used to infect unwitting Internet users.

After factoring in lost revenue, lost customers, missed opportunities, and out-of-pocket costs, Cisco estimates 53% of all cybersecurity attacks last year resulted in financial damages in excess of $500,000 to the affected enterprise.

There is some good news though on adoption of the three “As”: Cisco reports that 83% are relying on automation to help lock down security, with nearly 3/4 using some form of AI, while 92% of enterprises report that behavior analytics have been effective in helping to recognize malicious network activity and limit its damage to the network. Given the continued reluctance of many operators to embrace automation broadly within their network operations, their willingness to accept the importance of automation in network security is a good sign; going forward, as operators embrace virtualization, cloud-native microservices, and DevOps, automation will become increasingly vital to manage networks that are becoming exponentially more complex to operate and maintain. Continue reading “Operator Resistance to Automation is Slowly Breaking Down, Especially in Security”

Verizon’s NB-IoT Plans: Expanding Options for Hedging Bets?

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Verizon and Ericsson announced successful trials of NB-IoT with plans to launch nationwide NB-IoT by the end of the year.

• Given the different use cases for LTE-M and NB-IoT, a dual-buildout strategy makes sense. However, with NB-IoT more widely deployed, Verizon’s decision to build out NB-IoT also enables it to hedge its bets in the event that an LTE-M ecosystem doesn’t emerge.

Verizon announced February 1 it will deploy NB-IoT technology across its network in 2018 after successful trials with Ericsson. The announcement represented an acceleration from previous plans which called for NB-IoT trials this year. The move was no doubt a competitive response to T-Mobile USA’s accelerated deployment plans, but there may have been other rationale that played into Verizon’s plans. Continue reading “Verizon’s NB-IoT Plans: Expanding Options for Hedging Bets?”

Looking for Light in Ericsson Results, but It’s Getting Dimmer

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Ericsson’s Q4 2017 results showed signs of progress, including significant adoption of its 5G-focused Ericsson Radio System (ERS), an improved position in the Chinese market, and the elimination or completion of a dozen unprofitable and/or non-strategic services engagements.
  • Unfortunately, the weak results, coupled with continued management upheaval, paint a picture of a company that remains adrift despite replacing a significant portion of its leadership team in the past 18 months.

Ericsson released its Q4 2017 financial results January 31, and as the company had already forecast, it was mostly bad news, particularly when it comes to reported results which reflected a 12% decline in revenue and a painful -34.5% operating margin compared to -0.3% in Q4 2016 and -10% in Q3 2017. However, in the spirit of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there was some good news to offset the bad. To be clear, however, some of the news was just bad. Continue reading “Looking for Light in Ericsson Results, but It’s Getting Dimmer”

After Years of Halfhearted Green Initiatives, the KPN-Led Sustainability Initiative Might be a Sign of a Real Movement Afoot

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• KPN is taking a leadership position in driving its vendor community toward more sustainable practices. Other operators are likely reviewing KPN’s “Circular Manifesto” as a template for how they should revise their own sustainability initiatives.

• Telecom technology and software vendors are increasingly being pushed by their key operator customers to commit to adopt manufacturing and production practices that rely on reusable or recyclable components, as well as renewable energy sources.

Dutch network operator KPN, which provides mobile and fixed-line service to nearly 40 million customers in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, caused a stir in October, announcing an aggressive environmental initiative that could become a model for operators looking to beef up their “sustainability” credentials. Continue reading “After Years of Halfhearted Green Initiatives, the KPN-Led Sustainability Initiative Might be a Sign of a Real Movement Afoot”

AT&T and Verizon Send Shot Across the Bow of TowerCos with Tillman Alliance

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T and Verizon announced a joint venture with Tillman Infrastructure under which Tillman will build hundreds of cell towers across the country. Both AT&T and Verizon will lease and co-anchor towers built under the agreement.
  • The deal is likely designed to pressure ‘big three’ tower companies Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications to negotiate more favorable terms, but it is not clear Tillman has the clout to have much of an impact on operators’ bargaining positions.

AT&T and Verizon announced a joint venture with Tillman Infrastructure on November 13th under which Tillman will build hundreds of cell towers across the country. Both AT&T and Verizon will lease and co-anchor towers built under the agreement. The operators indicate that the deal enables them to build towers exactly where they are needed; in practice, the Tillman deal provides AT&T and Verizon with an alternative to leasing space from tower companies such as Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications. Continue reading “AT&T and Verizon Send Shot Across the Bow of TowerCos with Tillman Alliance”

Looking at the Good & Bad News in Q3 2017 Telecom Vendor Financial Results

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Revenue was down year-to-year for Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco and even ZTE, which had carried positive growth for H1 2017. But, vendors are generally doing a good job driving out costs in order to increase profitability.
  •  On their face, Ericsson’s Q3 2017 results reflected a company facing multiple challenges and a lengthy road to recovery. However, there were signs of light indicating that the fundamental business may return to solid footing once painful restructuring initiatives are completed.

The Bad News: Revenues Down

With the results now in for Q3 2017, it’s clear it was a rough quarter for many vendors. Results were perhaps most striking for ZTE (consolidated results shown), which experienced a nearly 8% decline compared to the prior year quarter. ZTE’s results were a distinct reversal from the first half of 2017, in which the company grew revenue 13% year-to-year. Continue reading “Looking at the Good & Bad News in Q3 2017 Telecom Vendor Financial Results”