Cisco Continues to Chug Along, Despite a Steady Stream of Executive Departures

John Byrne
John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure


Since taking the reins at Cisco in 2015, CEO Chuck Robbins has projected an image of stability, even as the company navigates tricky challenges like the move from hardware-centric to software-defined networks. However, the company has seen a steady stream of executive departures since Robbins’ tenure began.

Continue reading “Cisco Continues to Chug Along, Despite a Steady Stream of Executive Departures”

ZTE Back in Business, but Not “Business as Usual”

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:                 

  • After paying a $1 billion penalty, establishing a $400 million escrow account, appointing a new board, a new CEO, and a new slate of other executive leaders, ZTE has now begun the process of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.
  • With a lengthy ten-year probationary period now underway, ZTE must convey to the market that it is a committed and trustworthy partner in order to thrive in the emerging 5G era.

ZTE began its second phase of life – the “after” phase – over the weekend after receiving final clearance from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) officially removing ZTE from the “Denied Persons List.” The resolution brings to an end a three-month shutdown since the BIS imposed sanctions on ZTE in April for not complying with terms of a settlement reached with the BIS in March 2017. Continue reading “ZTE Back in Business, but Not “Business as Usual””

ZTE’s Forced ‘Hibernation’ Prompts Changes in GlobalData Coverage

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • In light of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s April 15, 2018 activation of the denial order suspending ZTE’s export privileges for seven years, and ZTE’s May 9, 2018 announcement that it has ceased major operating activities, GlobalData has adjusted all its ZTE Company Assessment and Product Assessment rankings to ‘Vulnerable.’
  • If and when ZTE is able to return to normal operations, we will update these reports and ratings accordingly. However, if the U.S. Department of Commerce does not reverse its ruling, ZTE’s ability to continue as a going concern will be jeopardized.

The ongoing, existential threat to ZTE from the stiff sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce last month has required GlobalData to revise its product and company rankings across the board to our lowest rating of ‘Vulnerable.’ The revisions affect ZTE assessments across all of our coverage areas, including Mobile Access, Fixed Multimedia Access, Transport & Routing, IP Services Infrastructure, Service Enablement Ecosystem, and Support & Operation Services. In total, we rank ZTE hardware, software, and services offerings in 20 categories. Continue reading “ZTE’s Forced ‘Hibernation’ Prompts Changes in GlobalData Coverage”

U.S. Telecoms Vendors Could Ultimately Be the Biggest Victims of Government Sanctions

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce delivered a stunning blow to Chinese telecoms vendor ZTE, activating a seven-year ban on U.S. firms from exporting any products to the Chinese company.
  • The decision – and possible Chinese countermeasures – could have major repercussions for a number of U.S. companies, highlighting the complex and highly interdependent nature of today’s telecommunications networks.

U.S. trade relations with China continue to sour, with the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to issue severe sanctions against ZTE representing the latest salvo. But in the complex, interdependent global supply, the ‘penalty’ sanctions imposed by the U.S. against ZTE could ultimately exact the greatest damage on U.S. vendors. Continue reading “U.S. Telecoms Vendors Could Ultimately Be the Biggest Victims of Government Sanctions”

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?”