Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2017: From Connected Cows to 5G Core Network (R)evolution

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • This year’s Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum included a strong focus on 5G core network evolution.
  • Unlike discrete access technology evolution, the 5G core network must evolve smoothly into a radically new form (and so must carrier organizations).

This year’s Huawei Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF 2017) was held in London and boasted a record attendance of 1,400. Nevertheless, that particular number (of people) was completely eclipsed by the ‘number clouds’ appearing on massive screens behind Huawei’s CEO, Ken Hu, as he delivered his opening pitch. Driven by the increasing number of machines which will be connected to the 5G network in the coming years, cows – connected cows; one billion of them – were his first 5G use-case illustration. Read more of this post

Open Source MANO Projects – What Did We Learn From the SDN NFV World Congress 2017?

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• This year’s SDN NFV World Congress was marked by the two major open source MANO projects firing salvos at each other.

• At the end of the day, operators will choose what ‘works on the ground’, and that will be sourced from vendors and systems integrators, not open source groups.

This year’s “fifth anniversary of NFV” SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands prompted many appraisals of industry progress. One of the most fundamental developments during this period has been the inexorable rise of open source software. This has been particularly surprising in the NFV Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) space, generating a vast amount of activity and subsequent consolidation that has now distilled into two major open source projects vying for leadership: Open Source MANO (OSM) and the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). With an OSM Workshop on the Monday and an ONAP Mini-Summit on the Thursday, the two projects comprehensively “bookended” the Congress. Operators and vendors sometimes referenced one or other (or both) during the intervening days, so there could be no doubt as to their importance to the industry.

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The Summer of Software Defined Access: Foreshadowing Fall Success?

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

• Calix, ADTRAN and Nokia, in that order, all hosted media/analyst events this summer which highlighted each vendor’s focus on software-defined access (SDA) solutions.

• Differentiation of SDA solutions between vendors will be more challenging than previous, hardware/performance-focused comparisons. As such, the clearest differentiation for and between vendor SDA solutions will be customer/operator wins, the bigger and more numerous, the better.

With the fall equinox upon us, it is timely to reflect on the summer of SDA. From June through August, SDA was a hot topic for three key fixed access systems vendors: Calix, ADTRAN and Nokia.

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Webscales Yield Heavy Market Influence: Google, Facebook and Others Driving Network Equipment Roadmaps

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• Webscale influence on new product developments is being felt in data center interconnect and massively scalable switching and transport gear.

• Traditional telcos, however, are using these new Webscale-driven platforms to retool their own networks and prepare to deliver more agile services to protect their service base.

Since the first public networks were built, incumbent telcos like Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and AT&T have ruled network equipment roadmaps and investments – dictating the features, operation and capabilities of new networking products. However, more recently Webscale operators are the influencers. Whereas vendors had been focused on providing the high capacity and broad coverage required by rapid smartphone adoption and a massive increase in video traffic, the focus has steadily turned to support massive, low-latency throughput between the data centers that serve the most popular brands on the Internet, dubbed FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon). Traditional network operators are scrambling to adapt to this change in service delivery focus, and better prepare their networks for the emerging 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) era.
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The 5G Migration That’s Already Happening: RAN Vendors Launching 5G-Era Base Stations

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • New base station introductions in the run-up to 5G pose challenges depending on both their timing relative to competitors’ moves and their messaging relative to legacy products.
  • All major RAN vendors have faced challenges unveiling new base stations recently, including Huawei, which was forced to make big changes in response to shifting market demands.

Everywhere you look, people are talking about the coming migration to 5G mobile networks. A much less talked about – but perhaps no less challenging – transition is the one radio access network (RAN) equipment vendors are making from base stations that were optimized for LTE to ones designed to lead operators into the 5G era. Yet, in the waiting period before 5G’s true arrival, marketing new base stations aimed at future networks alongside the current generation of base stations is a balancing act akin to stepping from an unmoored boat to a pier. Read more of this post

NFV MANO – Entering Yet Another Bout of Turbulence

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Turbulence in the NFV MANO market is high; that can be good to shakeout problems, but it also makes for an uncomfortable flight.
  • Some operators have decided to take matters into their own hands; others are engaging a trusted vendor to “just make it work”.

As with any long haul flight, the risk of experiencing periods of turbulence is ever present.  The flight metaphor is also appropriate to long haul telecom network transformation projects, and NFV is certainly the largest to be navigated by the industry in the past 20 years. The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) architectural block is a good indicator of the “flight status” of the whole NFV project, which now seems to be entering a new phase of turbulence. A couple of recent announcements have highlighted some major, and sometimes forgotten, basics: Read more of this post

MWC Shanghai 2017: ZTE Addresses ‘5G Network Slicing Backhaul’ Requirements with New Solution

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Introduces Slicing for Backhaul: The ZXCTN 609 supports separate backhaul slices (tunnels), each with independent performance characteristics, meeting 5G demands for low-latency, high-speed, flexible connections.
  • 100G Backhaul Link Support: The ZXCTN 609 expands ZTE’s Flexhaul series to support 100G links to handle expected high-bandwidth 5G backhaul speeds, with high-availability features such as protection switchover and SDN control.

ZTE leveraged this year’s MWC Shanghai 2017 to further its stake in the emerging 5G infrastructure market by expanding its Flexhaul series backhaul platform to support 100G links. 100G is needed to cope with the massive capacity requirements expected as 5G comes to life in the next few years. The ZXCTN 609 also includes the company’s FlexE tunnel technology, which it announced as part of the ZXCTN 6180H launch, bringing the equivalent of network slicing to the backhaul network. ‘Flexibility’ is clearly the focus, with FlexE supporting a variety of service characteristics for applications such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (uRLLC), which have vastly different transport requirements. ZTE has collaborated closely with multiple operators to craft mobile network solutions that meet a range of application types and capacities. In addition to being visible in China Mobile and Ncell Axiata, ZTE successfully completed tests in seven major scenarios that are part of the second phase of China’s national 5G tests and set multiple records for network speeds and performance. Read more of this post