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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Starlink’s Role in the Russia-Ukraine War Could Inspire Further LEO Investment

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • At the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Starlink – with ample financial support from the US and its allies – supplied terminals and active service in the country.
  • Starlink’s service has proven unparalleled resilience, giving a new set of arguments for further development of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.

Since the beginning of the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, Starlink has consistently proven its worth as a critical communications medium. The service has been proven resilient, both in its design and operations. The service requires no ground-based infrastructure aside from a user terminal, allowing users to set up internet access quickly. It circumvents terrestrial infrastructure, which has not only been damaged by the ongoing warfare, but has also crumbled under targeted Russian cyber and physical attacks and sabotage. This part of its performance was expected.

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Midband 5G and Fiber Drive Increased 2022 CapEx Guidance from US Operators

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • After a COVID-related decline in CapEx in 2020, US operators returned almost exactly to 2019 levels in 2021, in line with guidance provided at the beginning of the year.
  • Operators are planning to increase CapEx by double digits in 2022, with the increase being driven by midband 5G deployments and increasing appetite for fiber from both large and small operators.

An analysis of US operator financial results based on Q4 2021 earnings releases shows that CapEx in 2021 came in nearly identically to 2019 levels after a COVID-driven dip in 2020. The nine network operators shown below – all of which spent more than $1 billion in CapEx – spent $70.6 billion in 2021 CapEx, up 5.2% from 2020 and nearly flat from 2019. GlobalData estimates that the big three that account for nearly 70% of total CapEx – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA – spent roughly $49 billion, up 7% from 2020. Continue reading “Midband 5G and Fiber Drive Increased 2022 CapEx Guidance from US Operators”

FTTP and FWA Momentum in the US Grows, but MSOs (Mostly) Stick to Cable

Emir Halilovic – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Despite growing fiber and FWA momentum in their home market, US cable MSOs are still mostly sticking with cable as their current and future network technology.

• This insistence on staying the course is natural, given cable’s “value for money” ratio, but the technological superiority of fiber and flexibility of FWA may increasingly endanger the very core of the MSO’s business.

Recent announcements coming from major US telcos indicate new enthusiasm for fiber and FWA investment. AT&T is forging on with its plan to add 30 million new locations to its fiber network, and has introduced XGS-PON into its network, enabling 2Gbps and 5Gbps services. Verizon has (finally) started offering 2Gbps service on its NG-PON2 network in New York City. Smaller operators like Frontier, Ziply, Vexus Fiber, and Hotwire have mostly jumped on the XGS-PON bandwagon and offer multi-gig services as well.

Continue reading “FTTP and FWA Momentum in the US Grows, but MSOs (Mostly) Stick to Cable”

2022 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the Mobile Access Sector This Year

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • In 2022, RAN vendors will increasingly focus on the energy efficiency of their solutions as a competitive differentiator.
  • Network management applications for Open RANs will multiply – developed by both incumbent RAN vendors and third-party developers.

The past two years have been anything but predictable, but the new year brings hope for a return to normalcy. In that spirit, here are a few predictions for what to expect in the RAN space in 2022: Continue reading “2022 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the Mobile Access Sector This Year”

NEC and Netcracker Delve Deeper into 5G Xhaul

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• NEC and Netcracker wrap their respective professional services and domain orchestration solution around Juniper’s IP networking and ADVA’s open line system for a multi-layer, multi-vendor, and automated 5G Xhaul.

• The cooperation has great potential to increase each of the vendors’ credibility in 5G transport, but must show tangible advantages in functionality and cost savings to uproot entrenched competitors.

The 5G transport market continues to heat up, as operators are gradually waking up to the fact that transport renovation and automation will be one of the key ingredients of their future end-to-end 5G architecture. In that context, accelerated activity by NEC and Netcracker in 5G Xhaul illustrates well the importance of transport for 5G, and the size of the market opportunity awaiting. NEC, Netcracker, Juniper, and ADVA contributed their leading capabilities to their joint solution introduced in September.

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Orange and Nokia Push the Circular Economy Forward with RAN Refurbishment

Andy Hicks, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Orange’s expansion of its equipment refurbishing efforts to the radio network represents new levels of scale, complexity, and maturity in its circular economy initiative.
  • Fears that reused radio equipment will not match the improved energy consumption of new units have not been borne out in real-world usage.

In October 2021, Paris-based multinational telecoms operator Orange announced an agreement with Nokia to increase its use of refurbished network equipment across its entire 26-country footprint. Beginning with radio access network (RAN) equipment, the arrangement will extend to other network infrastructure elements. In taking this step, Orange is establishing an advanced position that it hopes other telecoms groups will follow. Continue reading “Orange and Nokia Push the Circular Economy Forward with RAN Refurbishment”

Telefónica Tech Blockchain Platform Bolstering Telecom Tower Management

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • Telefónica Tech will utilize blockchain to accelerate automation within mobile operator networks and foster ecosystem development.
  • With new concepts such as ORAN promising more vendors within operator architectures, the ability to establish transparency will be crucial. Blockchain potentially addresses this challenge.

Spanish telecommunications infrastructure management company Atrebo announced in October that it will deploy Telefónica Tech’s blockchain platform to digitize over 200,000 towers and other telecommunications infrastructure assets. Continue reading “Telefónica Tech Blockchain Platform Bolstering Telecom Tower Management”

Optical Pluggables Evolution: Higher Performance Brings Extended Usability

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The next generation of digital optical pluggable interfaces will have deep implications on traditional optical transport platforms.
  • The attraction of pluggable form factors, and further standardization, will shape the optical transport market going forward.

When networking giant Cisco acquired optical solutions specialist Acacia Communications in 2019, one of the proclaimed goals of this high-profile move was powering the next stage of IP-optical integration. Mating Cisco’s routers with miniaturized coherent pluggable optical interfaces allows clients to simplify their transport networks and, in some scenarios, eliminates the need for some optical transport network elements in the architecture. This approach works best in metro aggregation scenarios, where span lengths match the capacity sweet spot of the currently available crop of pluggables, like 400G-capable 400ZR. Continue reading “Optical Pluggables Evolution: Higher Performance Brings Extended Usability”

Vodafone Issues 5G/IoT Call to Action to UK Government in Advance of COP26

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

• In a new report, Vodafone warned that current initiatives underway by the UK government are insufficient to help meet aggressive carbon emission reduction goals, including a 2035 78% reduction target.

• Vodafone and its research partner WMI Economics offered solutions designed to help jumpstart progress on these aggressive goals by deploying 5G and IoT to a host of vertical segments, notably agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation.

UK telecom operator Vodafone warned in September that the UK government has much more to do to meet aggressive emissions reduction targets that call for a 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2020. The company believes its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions can help.

In a new report issued in conjunction with political communications consultancy WPI Economics, Vodafone pointed to slow progress in important sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, and transport where IoT could potentially deliver important progress. In these three sectors alone, Vodafone estimates that existing IoT technology has the ability to reduce between 11.7 million and 17.4 million metric tons in annual greenhouse gas emissions – at the high-end, that would represent 4% of total UK emissions, or approximately the total emissions in the Northeast of England. The benefits of IoT vary by population density – Vodafone estimates that in city centers, 87% of the benefit would come from smart transportation solutions; by contrast, agriculture would drive 38% of emission reductions in rural areas.

TOTAL POTENTIAL ANNUAL CO2 SAVINGS FROM DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
BY SECTOR AND SCENARIO

Source: Vodafone/WPI Economics “Connecting for Net Zero: Addressing the climate crisis through digital technology” (September 2021)

In order to fully realize these emissions reductions, Vodafone issued a call to action for the UK government. Among its recommendations:

• Set clearer targets and benchmarks for the adoption of digital technology within the company’s 2050 zero net emissions strategy.

• Incentivize adoption of IoT and 5G technologies in key sectors to accelerate emissions reductions.

• Increase the weight given to carbon reduction technologies and vendors’ internal carbon reduction targets in procurement processes.

• Expand the role of UK programs such as Digital Catapult and Connected Places Catapult that are tasked with accelerating digital technology innovation and adoption in high impact sectors of the economy.

• Allocate £500 million of public funding to regional innovation centers focused specifically on IoT and 5G applications that can reduce carbon emissions.

• Enable interoperability among solutions by introducing regulation to drive common security and data standards in IoT devices.

• Introduce a regulatory and policy framework that “creates the right signals for investment” in mobile networks across the UK.

For all the focus on the lead-up to COP26, the next annual UN climate change conference happening in Glasgow, Scotland in November, Vodafone also offers another, less altruistic rationale for focusing on 5G-based digital solutions to reduce carbon emissions: jobs. According to the September report, Vodafone estimates that 5G could add £6.3 billion to the value of UK manufacturing by 2030 and create 175,000 additional jobs across the economy.

Continue reading “Vodafone Issues 5G/IoT Call to Action to UK Government in Advance of COP26”