TM Forum’s ODA Vision Gains Ground, but Vendor Partner Choices Are Still Critical

Principal Analyst, Global Telecom Technology and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • TM Forum’s ‘Open Digital Architecture’ (ODA) vision has received a major endorsement from several Tier 1 telcos and leading IT vendors.
  • While one of ODA’s goals is to enable best-of-breed procurement on a much more granular level, telcos will need to make a major vendor partnership decision to help them reach that goal.

This week, TM Forum announced that eleven new telcos and vendors had signed on to its ‘Open Digital Architecture,’ which incorporates cloud-native design principles as well as telco-specific processes and a focus on governance. In aggregate, these companies constitute a substantial industry endorsement: the telcos include BT, Chunghwa Telecom, DT, Telefonica, and Telenor; the vendors include major rivals Amdocs, Netcracker, Nokia, and Oracle. Continue reading “TM Forum’s ODA Vision Gains Ground, but Vendor Partner Choices Are Still Critical”

U.S. vs. Huawei: Everybody Loses

Summary Bullets:

• The U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DoC) move to prohibit Huawei from buying components manufactured using U.S.-made foundry machines and silicon design tools has major implications for Huawei’s continued operations.

• However, it will also bring immediate negative effects on component suppliers (some U.S.-based), impact competition among ICT vendors, and produce uncertainty going forward.

New sanctions announced by the U.S. DoC on May 15 prohibit foundries using U.S.-made machines and software from selling chips to Huawei. In practical terms, this means that Huawei’s key silicon suppliers – Taiwanese TSMC and Chinese SMIC – would likely need to halt production of Huawei subsidiary’s HiSilicon chip designs. The immediate prospect for Huawei is especially bleak considering that the great majority of the world’s foundries use U.S.-sourced hardware or software in some parts of their process. Continue reading “U.S. vs. Huawei: Everybody Loses”

GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of its flagship Barcelona event, MWCA exhibitors have been waiting for details on a rebate or refund program.
  • The package announced March 25 provides a cash refund for smaller exhibitors but realistically represents a ‘take it or leave it’ package of rebates toward future events.

Since the GSMA made the difficult decision to cancel its annual conference in Barcelona in February, exhibitors have been awaiting details on the association’s refund package promised by the end of March. Now that offer has been announced, and while cash refunds are being offered for some, the vast majority of exhibitors will need to accept a package of rebates – albeit generous – toward future shows. However, the package looks punitive toward exhibitors that acted responsibly in withdrawing from the conference before it was officially cancelled. Continue reading “GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package”

U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson to compete more effectively in 5G.
  • Beyond being hypocritical and practically unworkable, the proposal runs counter to ongoing open RAN initiatives which could help U.S. vendors thrive in 5G by innovating.

Giving the keynote address at the U.S. Department of Justice’s China Initiative conference on February 6, U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised eyebrows by suggesting that the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson. The argument is that, while both vendors have proven successful in managing customers’ migration from 4G to 5G, they lack Huawei’s scale as well as the backing of a powerful country like China. Continue reading “U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies”

New 5G Network Recommendations Complicate UK Operators’ Rollout Plans

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The UK government has proposed limits in how much Huawei 5G RAN gear mobile operators deploy.
  • Exactly how operators will implement those limits is unclear, raising several questions.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the UK’s technical authority on cybersecurity, made big headlines this week by issuing recommendations for UK operators regarding how to honor national security concerns in selecting 5G network suppliers. But, beyond the headlines – primarily regarded as a win for Huawei, since the NCSC allowed a role for Huawei in UK 5G networks despite pressure from the U.S. – the NCSC’s actions raise plenty of questions about how UK operators will source, plan, and deploy their 5G radio access networks (RANs). Continue reading “New 5G Network Recommendations Complicate UK Operators’ Rollout Plans”

Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2020 predictions across mobile and fixed access, transport and routing, and telco software and services.
  • The predictions here represent some of the most intriguing industry trends that vendors and operators will need to track closely in the coming year.

Standalone 5G Rollouts: Mobile operators will begin to deploy standalone 5G, which doesn’t rely on an LTE core. Because the first wave of 5G, non-standalone, heavily incentivizes operators to simply add 5G to their existing 4G infrastructure, some operators will use standalone 5G as an opportunity to trial new suppliers and architectures, including virtual core suppliers and Open RAN architectures. The timing of deployments will depend in part on how quickly operators can transition their voice services, since 5G won’t offer a circuit-switch fallback option, as 4G did.

Proving 5G Value: Mobile operators will continue to struggle with proving the value of 5G mobile broadband to consumers, as indicated by recent reports of unimpressed 5G customers thus far in South Korea. At Mobile World Congress 2020 (the year that has been hailed for most of the previous decade as 5G’s arrival date), vendors will once again, for at least the third year in a row, emphasize that 5G is ‘here’ and ‘real.’ At the same time, they will also concede that the enterprise use cases at the heart of the 5G value story are still at an early stage of development.

Shifting RAN Vendor Landscape: It’s too difficult to predict whether more countries will follow the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in erecting barriers to Huawei and ZTE’s participation in their network infrastructure markets. But in any case, what has already transpired – combined with the cloud of uncertainty it casts over the future – will likely have several near-term effects in 2019. Continue reading “Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020”

VMworld Europe 2019: Powering Telco Cloud-Native Transformation

Emir Halilovic – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • After forming its telco business to take a piece out of the NFV cake several years ago, VMware has continued to gain momentum with CSPs.
  • VMware is likely to expand its presence in telco networks as its core products develop to address key cloud-native transformation priorities.

At the onset of the NFV revolution, most industry players reached a consensus that the virtualized telco of the future will become a DevOps shop, running mainly on open source software components. However, even though it may work for the largest telcos, this blueprint is far from universal – as exemplified by the telco business momentum shown by one of the largest global ISVs, VMware. At the VMworld Europe event in Barcelona on November 3-7, VMworld executives put a special emphasis on their telco business, which nowadays encompasses three primary focus areas: building the telco cloud, optimizing the edge, and optimizing the radio. VMware now counts more than 100 telco cloud and service assurance clients in production serving over 800 million mobile subscribers. Telco – the only vertical business within VMware – figured prominently in the keynotes as well, with the launch of VMware’s ‘Project Maestro’ telco cloud orchestrator as one of the main points of CEO Pat Gelsinger’s presentation. Continue reading “VMworld Europe 2019: Powering Telco Cloud-Native Transformation”

Huawei Selling 5G IP? Intriguing but Unlikely

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei offered to sell the company’s 5G-related intellectual property in a bid to address concerns over potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

• The idea is intriguing but ultimately unlikely to result in any actual outsourcing deals; however, making the offer results in positive PR for Huawei in any event.

Huawei Chairman and CEO Ren Zhengfei caught the industry’s attention several weeks ago when he indicated, in an interview with The Economist, that he was open to selling Huawei’s 5G-related intellectual property to Western firms. This would theoretically enable these vendors to change software code and eliminate concerns over Huawei potentially inserting “backdoors” and other vulnerabilities into operator networks.
Continue reading “Huawei Selling 5G IP? Intriguing but Unlikely”

Political Battles and Ongoing Restructurings Serve as Backdrop for MWC19

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:
• The wireless industry prepares to converge once again in Barcelona at MWC19.
• In addition to new 5G product and service launches and customer wins, political and financial concerns will serve as significant backdrops this year.

MWC19, the wireless industry’s largest event of the year, kicks off February 25 in Barcelona.

For network infrastructure vendors, MWC19 will serve as a launch point for a host of new products and services. Expect a number of 5G “plumbing”-related announcements from a host of vendors, including:

• Massive MIMO advancements
• Solutions designed to allow operators to support both 4G/LTE and 5G on a common core
• Similarly, flexible and programmable transport solutions that can support a host of to-be-developed 5G network slicing use cases
• Advancements in IoT platforms designed to help network operators do a better job of bringing the “connected X” proposition into a host of enterprises.

However, while 5G will obviously take center stage, as it has for the past three years, politics and financial concerns will serve as significant backdrops for this year’s event.

Huawei has endured a U.S.-backed campaign against it over the past year that has threatened its 5G prospects across the UK, Australia, Japan, and elsewhere. It will need to announce 5G-related deals at this year’s event to signal that it still has the support of a critical mass of the industry to thrive in the 5G era. Given the current urgency around this issue, Huawei will need to address security concerns more directly in its MWC19 messaging.
Continue reading “Political Battles and Ongoing Restructurings Serve as Backdrop for MWC19”

Ciena Sharpens Its Focus on Network Automation, Creates a Separate Blue Planet Division

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Ciena can now promote Blue Planet as an independent automation solution which can assist operators to create new services, automate service orders, and reduce O&M complexity.
  • Separating Blue Planet’s priorities from those of Ciena’s equipment business, packet and optical transport, enables it to better address multivendor network transformation opportunities.

Ciena noted in its Q4 2018 financial reporting that several mega trends were affecting its business: an increased need for greater bandwidth and what it termed ‘adaptive automation.’ In a recent (February 2019) blog post, the company announced its intent to form a separate independent operating division focused on providing intelligent automation solutions. A key question is: why establish a separate operating division for Ciena software and services? Continue reading “Ciena Sharpens Its Focus on Network Automation, Creates a Separate Blue Planet Division”