Cellular IoT: Understanding the “Value” of NB-IoT or LTE-M Key to Operator Success?

John Byrne
John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• NB-IoT and LTE-M deployments are proliferating. Proofs of concept abound, but neither technology appears to be generating significant momentum yet.

• Regardless of the technology, moving beyond connectivity is vital to mobile operator success in IoT.

In the past six months, cellular operators worldwide have been rapidly deploying narrowband (NB)-IoT and LTE-M. In June, the GSMA announced the success of its Mobile IoT Initiative, claiming nearly 75 operators deploying NB-IoT or Cat-M and 500 members in its Mobile IoT Innovators initiative designed to help operators add IoT value. The bulk of this focus has been on NB-IoT, which cellular operators are using to establish new use cases, including smart agriculture and a variety of smart cities applications involving lighting, parking meters, smart buildings and the like. For example, T-Mobile USA completed live NB-IoT smart city trials in July 2017 in advance of a planned national launch.

Continue reading “Cellular IoT: Understanding the “Value” of NB-IoT or LTE-M Key to Operator Success?”

AT&T Aims to SHAPE the Future of Entertainment with Time Warner Acquisition

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The AT&T SHAPE event, held in Burbank, California last week at the massive Warner Brothers studio lot, highlighted the impressive variety of media and entertainment assets that AT&T will gain with its pending $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
  • The AT&T SHAPE event showcased the company’s clear intent to transform AT&T from ‘the Phone Company’ into a 21st century media and entertainment juggernaut, which also just happens to have a very strong legacy in networking.

The AT&T SHAPE Technology and Entertainment Expo was held at the Warner Brothers studios July 14-15 in Burbank, California. The SHAPE event was quite different from previous AT&T events, primarily because of the strong focus on Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Actually being ‘on location’ on the Warner Brothers lot drove this point home very effectively. However, the format for the event was familiar, in that it consisted of roughly one-hour sessions which were delivered in one of the Warner Brothers screening theaters. Approximately 10,000 people attended the event. The main theater where the sessions were hosted had more than 500 seats, with an overflow theater and live streaming of the main stage displayed on TV monitors in other locations throughout the Warner Brothers studio lot. Continue reading “AT&T Aims to SHAPE the Future of Entertainment with Time Warner Acquisition”

Calix Meets the Double-Edged Sword of Services Expansion

Paul Rizzuto – Senior Analyst, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Calix expanded its professional services portfolio throughout 2016, strengthening existing operator relationships, but experienced the difficulties of organically growing services.
  • Calix displayed significant services revenue growth during Q1 2017, but was challenged by a subsequent cost of revenue increase.

Over the past year, Calix, a network equipment provider specializing in fiber access solutions, made a concerted effort to expand its professional services organization. Acting on customer demand, the vendor, which primarily operates within North America, began investing in services including network planning, product installation, testing, and network turn-up. While Calix had a modest professional services organization prior to its ramp up, the expansion has significantly increased the role of services, both internally and externally. By the end of 2016, Calix hired a new services lead and fully committed to services expansion, adding expertise and capabilities. Continue reading “Calix Meets the Double-Edged Sword of Services Expansion”

TM Forum Live! 2017: Open Source MANO Continues to Divide Opinion

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Open source MANO initiatives continue to divide opinion across both the vendor and carrier communities, recent polls show.
  • The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track strategy – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

During GlobalData’s “Vive le Forum! A Recap of TM Forum Live! 2017” webinar in May, we invited attendees to respond to the poll question “Open Source MANO projects have now reduced to two (ONAP and OSM). Will this help to accelerate operator MANO procurement?” The results were as follows:

It was exactly a 50-50 split (honest!) between those who thought YES and those who thought NO, furthermore no particular YES or NO reason dominated. This suggests that open source MANO remains a divisive issue in the industry as a whole (and yes, both vendors and carriers were represented and responded across all four options).

An earlier survey in March conducted by SDxCentral tended to confirm this conclusion, reporting that “26% of Users Will Not Consider Open Source MANO”. In the same report, 49% also said that they will consider open source MANO solutions “once they are more mature.” Of course, no poll is ever an accurate portrayal of the real world and you can always poke holes in the questions, demographics and sample sizes, but I think we can conclude from the general drift of these results that, at least for now, open source MANO of any flavor, has not gained majority acceptance.

 

But will it ever gain that acceptance? Most players accepted and indeed welcomed open source initiatives in the VIM domain (OpenStack and OPNFV) and even its extension into the VNFM domain (OpenStack Tacker) – but open source in the NFVO and above? That came as a real surprise. GlobalData discussions with NFV MANO vendors at TM Forum Live! 2017 revealed a full spectrum of views on the “intrusion” of open source MANO into the market and whether incorporation – either piecemeal or wholesale – into vendor offerings was a good idea.

On the “far YES” side we found Amdocs maintaining a very positive view, given its position with AT&T, ECOMP and ONAP, effectively replacing its earlier commercial product with ONAP and even tweeting in May “These numbers would probably be significantly different if the survey was taken today #ONAP” in response to the SDN Central survey. On the “far NO” side, vendors like HPE were really concerned that, despite some of its advantages, the prospect of open source MANO alternatives has introduced an unwelcome “pause” in carrier minds that they can ill afford to take. Most other vendors are scattered somewhere in between, although more naturally clustered toward the “NO” end.

At the end of the day, however, it will be carriers, not vendors that decide the fate of open source MANO. Our impression at TM Forum Live! 2017 was that many of them indeed are just “waiting,” which we consider a risky strategy. The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track approach – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2017: “ALL CLOUD” Vision Takes the Company into New Territory

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:
• The 2017 edition of Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit (GAS) presented the company’s “ALL CLOUD” strategic vision.

• “ALL CLOUD” goes further than most, if not all, of the company’s peers. Huawei will certainly execute but carriers will need to commit.

As is customary for the Huawei’s annual GAS, analysts are presented with a firehose of increasingly detailed information and presentations over three days. On Day 1, key executive strategy sessions kick off the show. Day 3, then, ends with one-on-one analyst briefing on specific products and services. During the three days, the company also makes every effort to show that the key themes of Day 1 cascade down into ever corner of its business. Continue reading “Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2017: “ALL CLOUD” Vision Takes the Company into New Territory”

Nokia Shuffle Intensifies Focus on Mobile and Services, but Managerial Changes Are Ill Timed

John Byrne
John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia will divide up its Mobile Networks and Chief Innovation and Operating Officer units to align with the company’s ‘Rebalancing for Growth’ strategy unveiled in November 2016.
  • The moves create greater visibility for Nokia’s services unit, and should lead to improved operating efficiency and strategic investment, but significant management changes give the impression of disarray.

On March 17, Nokia announced changes in its organization and leadership team, to better execute the strategy unveiled by CEO Rajeev Suri at the company’s Capital Markets Day in November 2016:

  • Mobile Networks will be divided into two distinct organizations: Products & Solutions and Global Services. Marc Rouanne will assume control of the Products & Solutions unit, while current Mobile Networks President Samih Elhage will step down. Igor Leprince will continue to head up Global Services and will be added to Nokia’s Group Leadership Team (GLT), an indication of the growing importance of services.
  • Despite being placed within Mobile Networks, Global Services will house all managed network services and company-wide global service delivery. The Global Services unit will also be responsible for developing a common approach for processes and tools, managing a Services Committee to coordinate services development across different groups, with a common Customer Delivery Manager responsible for managing all services for a single customer.
  • Global Services will also continue to drive emerging strategic service areas such telco cloud, ‘x as a service’ (XaaS), prime integration and transformation consulting.
  • The former Chief Innovation and Operating Officer (CIOO) organization will be split into three: A traditional ‘operating’ unit will focus on internal operations, while responsibility for ‘innovation’ will revert to CTO Marcus Weldon and Chief Strategy Officer Kathrin Buvac. Monika Maurer, currently COO of the fixed business, will became company COO; both Maurer and Weldon will join the GLT. (Buvac is already a member.)

Continue reading “Nokia Shuffle Intensifies Focus on Mobile and Services, but Managerial Changes Are Ill Timed”

Happy Birthday to AVA: A One-Year Checkup on Nokia’s Cognitive Platform

Paul Rizzuto – Senior Analyst, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • In the year since Nokia announced its AVA cognitive services platform, the vendor has announced a slew of services leveraging the technology, signaling an intention to incorporate the platform widely.
  • Predictive repair and the MIKA digital assistant represent two such innovations as the result of AVA, but the nature of cognitive platforms asserts the real story is the refinement that follows traction.

It has been a full year since Nokia unveiled AVA, a cognitive platform focused on revolutionizing service delivery via automation, virtualization and analytics (AVA!). At the time, Nokia announced it would adapt the platform to the delivery of care services, network implementation, network performance optimization and managed services. As could be expected, the integration of the platform experienced something of a ramp-up period; Nokia has devoted much of the last year to building services and gaining mindshare around the concept of ‘extreme automation,’ cementing its status as the most vocal vendor in this space. Services launches since, including predictive optimization, predictive repair and the introduction of a digital assistant, MIKA, have all incorporated AVA to some extent. The launches confirm the vendor’s commitment to the AVA platform as a differentiator in service delivery efficiency and make clear that a continuously improving AVA platform will underpin Nokia’s entire services organization. Continue reading “Happy Birthday to AVA: A One-Year Checkup on Nokia’s Cognitive Platform”