What Was Hot in 2015: The Technologies, Topics, and Events You Cared About

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • In 2015, SDN and NFV continued to dominate our “most read reports” list, with 5G gaining interest as well.
  • Beyond specific technologies, major vendor moves – partnerships and acquisitions – garnered plenty of attention.
  • Ignoring smaller vendors or less buzzed-about technologies could be dangerous if it leaves vendors and service providers exposed to disruptive market forces.

In an attempt to provide insight into a wide array of telecom network trends and technologies, it’s only natural that some of our analyses will be better read than others. That attention may be due to any number of factors, but interest in the topic is generally the most important driver. In other words, reports about topics that people care about should be the most read, with the top analyses of 2015 pointing to the most important trends and themes of the year. Continue reading “What Was Hot in 2015: The Technologies, Topics, and Events You Cared About”

C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • C-RAN’s adoption is likely to grow significantly soon, thanks in part to evolutions in the underlying technologies.
  • Long term, future RANs will see a dynamic mix of centralized and distributed functions.

In 2016, we’re likely to hear even more about C-RAN than we already have. It’s not a new concept, and plenty of operators have deployed mobile access network architectures in which the baseband processing units are centralized, stacked or pooled, linked to remote radio units elsewhere. As portions of the network become increasingly virtualized, baseband processing will become virtualized, too – thus, centralized RAN will evolve into cloud RAN. This won’t happen everywhere, of course, but its use is likely to spread thanks in part to some significant advancements in C-RAN technology coming soon. Continue reading “C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud”

WiFi Continues to Shape the Enterprise Small-Cell Space

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Recent trends illustrate how influential WiFi remains in the enterprise small-cell space.
  • Small-cell vendors must align their view of technologies, partners and competitors with this dynamic.

As RAN vendors continue with an attempt to kick in the door to the enterprise small-cell market, one of the primary dynamics influencing these efforts is WiFi’s dominance in enterprise environs. This is largely what led Cisco to use its WiFi market footprint to compete in the small-cell space, of course. But, even in late 2015, after years of driving the enterprise small-cell value proposition, some players are shifting their thinking toward an even greater respect for the importance of WiFi in this business. For example: Continue reading “WiFi Continues to Shape the Enterprise Small-Cell Space”

How Telecom Benefits from IoT: Life and Death Security Implications

Jason Marcheck
Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • Network security is moving from something that has traditionally been seen as being “baked in” to an overt aspect of vendor solution marketing as all IP-based telecom and IoT networks proliferate.
  • As IoT security steps increasingly into the light, telecom network operators and vendors have a chance to win business in a number of vertical markets that have been previously out of their “sweet spot.”

The other day, I was invited to hear Ethernet co-inventor Bob Metcalfe participate in a live stream interview at RCR Wireless’ studios in Austin, TX. During the talk, professor Metcalfe touched on a range of topics including the history of Ethernet development, entrepreneurship and IoT networking requirements. While all good stuff, the part of the interview I found most interesting dealt with IoT security, particularly as it pertains to securing the networks needed to enable driverless cars on a mass-market scale. (For those interested, the gist of the automotive security discussion begins at about 25:30 of the video). Continue reading “How Telecom Benefits from IoT: Life and Death Security Implications”

Why Many of the Newest Small-cell Products Are Radio Units – And Why It Matters

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

• Many of the newest small-cell products are radio units, coinciding with larger trends around C-RAN and 5G

• This trend poses challenges for the consolidating RAN-vendor landscape and could create opportunity for outsiders

Small cells, C-RAN and 5G are some of the most talked-about topics in mobile access infrastructure today, but how do they intersect? For starters, here’s one way:

Many of the most recently introduced small-cell products are actually radio units (RUs) that connect externally to baseband units (BBUs) rather than the all-in-one base stations (with BBU and RU in one box). Nokia, for example, announced its 2×5 W Metro RRH 2100 MHz in late 2014. Ericsson included the Micro Radio 2203 as part of the new Ericsson Radio System portfolio it unveiled in Q1 2015. ZTE introduced its R8402 “Pad RRU” around the same time. More recently, Huawei began promoting its 5 kg “Book RRU.” Continue reading “Why Many of the Newest Small-cell Products Are Radio Units – And Why It Matters”

SpiderCloud Claims Nokia as Partner; Nokia Disagrees. In This Public Spat, Neither Company Wins.

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

• SpiderCloud’s CEO recently claimed Nokia as a reseller partner along with Cisco and NEC

• Nokia disputed this characterization, saying the arrangement was specific to a single operator engagement

If you ended up confused this week about whether or not SpiderCloud Wireless and Nokia Networks are partners, you’re not alone.

In an interview with news publication Light Reading, SpiderCloud Wireless CEO Mike Gallagher claimed a partnership with Nokia Networks wherein Nokia had been reselling SpiderCloud’s multi-mode 3G/4G enterprise small-cell solutions since February. Nokia responded by publicly denying any partnership between the two firms, adding that Nokia had supplied SpiderCloud’s solutions to a single specific customer and citing confidentiality agreements with the customer that prevent any further disclosure on the matter. A few tense online comments were exchanged. Continue reading “SpiderCloud Claims Nokia as Partner; Nokia Disagrees. In This Public Spat, Neither Company Wins.”

The Challenge Facing Enterprise Small Cells: Changing Minds

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Overcoming enterprise small-cell obstacles requires changing existing paradigms and business models.
  • Some vendors and operators have already begun accepting new business models, but convincing enterprises, venue owners – even some operators – could be tough.

You have to sympathize with enterprise small-cell vendors. Who knows how many months they have dedicated to R&D, product management, standards work, testing, trialing, marketing – all promising operators the prospect of bringing coverage and capacity to a place where a huge portion of human communication begins and ends. And yet, when operators approach enterprises with these innovative solutions, in many cases they’re likely to be met with just four frustrating words: “We’ve already got WiFi.” Continue reading “The Challenge Facing Enterprise Small Cells: Changing Minds”

Small Cells & Location-Based Services (LBS) – Why Vendors Will Have to Push Harder

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile access infrastructure vendors are increasingly pushing location-based services for indoor/enterprise networks.
  • It’s a logical concept but one that hasn’t shown much traction yet.
  • Such services face serious challenges, including finding killer apps despite a somewhat fractured market.

Enterprise small-cell deployments haven’t exactly spread like wild fire yet (the latest market information from the Small Cell Forum shows most shipments are still residential). Yet, vendors are talking more than ever about applying location-based services (LBS) and analytics to indoor enterprise networks including small cells and WiFi access points. Continue reading “Small Cells & Location-Based Services (LBS) – Why Vendors Will Have to Push Harder”

The Maker Network: The Potential and Perils of Building Block Marketing

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

There’s been a lot made of the ‘maker movement’ over the past few years. Combining technology and a do-it-yourself ethos, ‘Maker Faires’ have popped up all over the world, fueled by advancements in software development, robotics, and 3D printing. For anyone upset by rampant consumerism, the maker economy is a cause for hope.

But, does it have any place in a telco network?

On some level, the answer has always been ‘yes.’ Vendors and carriers alike pull together network solutions from disparate components and disparate suppliers. Yet, recent messaging from vendors suggests that we’ll see a good deal of maker-ism injected into Mobile World Congress this year. Consider a few of the launches that have already taken place. Continue reading “The Maker Network: The Potential and Perils of Building Block Marketing”

MWC 2015: Who’s Ready to Play MWC Buzzword Bingo?

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • RAN vendors are sure to repeat key buzzwords at MWC, including C-RAN, license-assisted access and 5G.
  • Vendors need to strike the right balance between getting attention and demonstrating credibility.

With Mobile World Congress almost upon us, exhibitors are fine-tuning the messages they plan to emphasize at the show. Trust us, we’ve been having a lot of these conversations lately. For RAN vendors, it can be pretty challenging to craft messages that not only rise above the din of competing announcements, but also attract attention in general at a show where devices and applications often hog the spotlight. Continue reading “MWC 2015: Who’s Ready to Play MWC Buzzword Bingo?”