Vertical Systems Group: U.S. Business Fiber Availability Reaches 54.8%

The availability of optical fiber connectivity to large and medium size commercial buildings in the U.S. jumped to 54.8% in 2017, based on latest research from Vertical Systems Group.  AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink’s aggressive build-outs of fiber into commercial buildings have continued to increase the availability of fiber connectivity.

As a result, the U.S. Fiber Gap has dropped to less than fifty percent (45.2%) for the first time. This annual benchmark quantifies the scope of fiber lit buildings in the U.S. with twenty or more employees. Encompassing more than two million individual business establishments, this base of commercial buildings maps directly to the addressable market for higher speed Carrier Ethernet, Cloud, Data Center, Hybrid VPN and emerging SDN-enabled services.

“More commercial U.S. buildings were newly lit with fiber during 2017 than in any other year since we initiated this research in 2004…..

AT&T told investors that it reached 400,000 business buildings with its own lit fiber facilities. Due to AT&T’s aggressive build-out, the service provider now covers over 1.8 million U.S. business customer locations. The telco said it is “adding thousands more buildings each month.”

CenturyLink and Verizon took the M&A path to enhance their on-net fiber holdings.

In a huge M&A deal, CenturyLink’s purchase of Level 3 increased its on-net building reach by nearly 75% to approximately 100,000 buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America, which gives the #3 U.S. telco a larger footprint to deliver carrier Ethernet and software-defined network services.

Verizon’s purchase of XO Communications gave the telco additional metro fiber networks in 40 major U.S. markets with over 4,000 on-net buildings and 1.2 million fiber miles.

Consolidated Communications also enhanced its on-net fiber holdings via its acquisition of FairPoint. By acquiring FairPoint, Consolidated immediately established itself as the ninth largest fiber player with a presence in 24 states and 8,000 on-net buildings.

This greater density will enable Consolidated to pursue more dark fiber and lit Ethernet service opportunities with a larger mix of business and wholesale customers.

What was also notable about this year’s M&A on-net building rush was the presence of nontraditional players like Uniti Fiber, which acquired two regional fiber providers, Southern Light and Hunt Telecom. These two deals give the REIT more fiber to pursue a mix of wireless, E-Rate, military, enterprise and wholesale opportunities, including fiber-to-the-tower backhaul, small cell networks and dark fiber. The acquisition of Southern Light in particular gives Uniti access to an additional 4,500 on-net locations.

Fueling Ethernet, 5G deployments

Having more available on-net fiber is another factor that plays into service providers’ U.S. Ethernet service reach and 5G plans by creating pipes through which wireless operators can build small cell and distributed antenna systems (DAS) to improve wireless coverage in business buildings.

Encompassing more than 2 million individual business establishments, this base of commercial buildings maps directly to the addressable market for higher speed carrier Ethernet, cloud, data center, hybrid VPN and emerging SDN-enabled business services.

Several of the service providers that have high on-net fiber building counts represent some of the largest Ethernet providers in the U.S.

On the Ethernet end, AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon continue to demand high spots in the Ethernet space. However, the effect of M&A clearly has altered the Ethernet landscape.

CenturyLink knocked AT&T from its nearly 13-year reign as the top domestic Ethernet provider in the U.S. by completing its acquisition of Level 3 Communications. The service provider’s move up the ranks of VSG’s year-end 2017 U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard was also a function of continued growth in Ethernet ports for both companies. Earlier, Level 3 ranked second to AT&T and CenturyLink ranked fifth on the Mid-2017 U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard.

But Ethernet is only one factor driving ongoing on-net fiber builds. Cochran noted in an e-mail to FierceTelecom that “larger providers larger providers are accelerating deployments” to position themselves for 5G.

Verizon, for example, acquired WideOpenWest’s fiber assets in Chicago, securing fiber to more than 500 macro-cell wireless sites and more than 500 small-cell wireless sites in the area.

Crown Castle advanced its fiber standing by acquiring Lightower—a deal that gave it greater fiber density to address businesses and its traditional wireless business customers deploying small cells in buildings. This acquisition gave Crown Castle rights to approximately 60,000 route miles of fiber, with a presence in all the top 10 and 23 of the top 25 metro markets.

As the expectations for higher speed Ethernet, cloud and in-building wireless coverages continues to ramp, service providers will continue to further narrow the fiber gap inside buildings. But unlike the speculative builds of the 1990s, these are focused on bandwidth hungry applications that are showing no signs of slowing.

Editor’s Note:

For this Vertical Systems Group analysis, a fiber lit building is defined as a commercial site or data center that has on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite. Excluded from this analysis are standalone cell towers, small cells not located in fiber lit buildings, near net buildings, buildings classified as coiled at curb or coiled in building, HFC-connected buildings, carrier central offices, residential buildings, and private or dark fiber installations.



STATFlash: U.S. Business Fiber Availability Reaches 54.8%

Telstra Launches 5G Enabled WiFi Hotspots without 5G Devices; 5G Connected Car Up Next

Australia’s Telstra has launched what it says are the first “5G-enabled” Wi-Fi hotspots in the world.   The new hotspots on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia will provide locals and visitors with access to free broadband services during the evaluation period.  While there are no 5G-enabled consumer devices available at this time, the Australian telco will connect 5G backhaul and infrastructure from an exchange to a Wi-Fi access point, so it can be used on existing 4G devices.

The open hotspots will provide up to 10GB of downloads per device per day. They will be managed by Telstra’s recently-launched 5G innovation center on the Gold Coast.  Telstra has connected 5G backhaul and related infrastructure in the Southport Exchange in the city to allow connections to the 5G network over Wi-Fi on existing devices.

“Wi-Fi has limited throughput so a single hotspot alone cannot come close to reaching the limits of 5G at our Innovation Center,” Telstra group managing director for networks Mike Wright said. “By using multiple hotspots with potentially hundreds of smartphone users served through a single 5G device we are able to get closer to demonstrating 5G in a real world environment. Our 5G backhaul is capable of delivering download speeds of more than 3 Gbps,” he added.

Telstra is also using mmWave spectrum and its 5G innovation centre to put a connected car on the road using Intel’s 5G automotive trial platform.

“Working with global technology companies Ericsson and Intel, we have put Australia’s first 5G connected car on the road. We are in the very early stages of development and are achieving download speeds approaching 1 Gbps inside the car and the vehicle is also equipped with a Wi-Fi access point,” Wright said.

The executive also highlighted the evolution of the telco’s 5G prototype during the first months of the year. “At the start of the year our 5G prototype device was the size of a bar fridge and weighed more than 200 kilograms.  Now, in collaboration with Intel and Ericsson, we have one that has been shrunk down to the size of a personal computer and can be installed in a car.”

The 5G center is central to a $58 million investment Telstra has made to upgrade infrastructure on the Gold Coast to support growing demand and major events in the area. Telstra will run extensive 5G trials on the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games in April this year.

Telstra previously said that said that it would work with Ericsson on key 5G technologies including massive multiple-input, multiple-output (Massive MIMO), adaptive beamforming and beam tracking, and OFDM-based waveforms in its Gold Coast center.



Telstra will have competition. Australian telecom operator Optus said it plans to roll out a fixed-wireless 5G service in key metro areas by early 2019. The announcement comes after the launch of an outdoor trial of 5G New Radio (NR), which showed 2Gbps download speeds for a fixed wireless service in homes and businesses, the Singtel subsidiary said.

The trial, conducted at its headquarters in Macquarie Park in Sydney in January, used dual-band 5G NR equipment and commercial grade CPEs for both C-band and millimeter wave band frequencies. C-band is within the same spectrum range of Optus’ 3.5GHz, which has been earmarked for 5G deployment, the operator said. The mmWave band 5G network has the capability to reach peak data speeds of 15Gbps to a single user, which is 15x what 4.5G is capable of today.

“Everyone has heard of concepts like self-driving cars, smart homes, AI and virtual reality however their full potential will require a fast and reliable network to deliver,” said Optus managing director of networks Dennis Wong.

“Seeing 5G data speeds through our trial that are up to 15x faster than current technologies allows us to show the potential of this transformative technology to support a new ecosystem of connected devices in the home, the office, the paddock and in the wider community.”

Optus will also be hosting a 5G technology showcase during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland from April 4 to 15 (this week and next).



FCC Acts to Speed Deployment of Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure; Interview with FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment, Second Report and Order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted new rules streamlining the wireless infrastructure siting review process to facilitate the
deployment of next-generation wireless facilities.  The FCC Order focuses on ensuring the Commission’s rules properly address the differences
between large and small wireless facilities, and clarifies the treatment of small cell deployments.

Specifically, the Order:
 Excludes small wireless facilities deployed on non-Tribal lands from National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, concluding that these facilities are not “undertakings” or “major federal actions.”

 Small wireless facilities deployments continue to be subject to currently applicable state and local government approval requirements.

 Clarifies and makes improvements to the process for Tribal participation in Section 106 historic preservation reviews for large wireless facilities where NHPA/NEPA review is still required.

 Removes the requirement that applicants file Environmental Assessments solely due to the location of a proposed facility in a floodplain, as long as certain conditions are met.

 Establishes timeframes for the Commission to act on Environmental Assessments.

The FCC said that those actions will reduce regulatory impediments to deploying small cells needed for 5G and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service and other advanced wireless technologies to more Americans.

Statement by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:

Re: Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment, WT Docket No. 17-79

If the United States is going to lead the world in 5G, we need to modernize our wireless infrastructure regulations. Our efforts to unleash spectrum for consumer use are necessary, but they aren’t sufficient to secure our 5G future. In fact, they’ll be pointless if carriers can’t deploy the physical infrastructure needed to bring next-generation services to the American people.

And unfortunately, our current wireless infrastructure rules are a poor fit for the 5G networks of the future. They were designed with 200-foot towers in mind, not the highly-densified networks of small cells that will be common in the 5G world.

That’s why today’s Order is so important. We take a giant leap forward in updating our wireless infrastructure rules. By cutting unnecessary red tape, we’ll make it substantially easier for carriers to build next-generation wireless networks throughout the United States. That means faster and more reliable wireless services for American consumers and businesses. That means more wireless innovation, such as novel applications based on the Internet of Things. And ultimately, that means American leadership in 5G.

Specifically, we clarify today that small cells are inherently different from large towers. So they shouldn’t face identical regulatory review under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. We also streamline the process for Tribal review notifications through our Tower Construction Notification System……………………..

* * *

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about American leadership in 5G. But talk is cheap; action is what actually matters. And now is the time for action. A vote for this Order is a vote for concrete action that will help toohe United States lead the world in 5G. It’s a vote for better, faster, and cheaper mobile broadband for the American people. It’s a vote for making the United States the best home for wireless innovation and investment. And it’s a vote to extend digital opportunity to more of our citizens. That future is a bright one, and it’s one I’m determined to deliver by supporting this Order.

Read more at:

Related:  Ken Pyle’s interview with FCC Chair Pai on Digital Opportunities through Grassroots Efforts

and this article:  Will the FCC Amend Rules for Small Cells….



According to Lightreading, AT&T has applied to the FCC for an experimental radio license to hold “5G” related tests in Burbank, CA using 28GHz base stations and terminals, connecting within 100 meters of the base station.


FCC approves SpaceX plan for low orbit broadband satellite network

On Thursday the FCC gave formal approval to a plan by SpaceX to build a global broadband satellite network using low-Earth orbit satellites.  The FCC order approving SpaceX’s application came with some conditions, like avoiding collisions with orbital debris in space.  Some of the other conditions imposed by the FCC relate to signal power levels and preventing interference with other communications systems in various frequency bands. 

SpaceX intends to start launching operational satellites as early as 2019, with the goal of reaching the full capacity of 4,425 satellites in 2024. The FCC approval just requires SpaceX to launch 50 percent of the satellites by March 2024, and all of them by March 2027.  SpaceX has been granted authority to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands.

“This is the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies,” the Federal Communications Commission said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on April 2 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. “The rocket will carry a communications satellite,” the FAA said.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in February had endorsed the SpaceX effort, saying: “Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.”

About 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans on tribal lands lack mobile broadband even at relatively slow speeds.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said on Thursday that the agency needs “to prepare for the proliferation of satellites in our higher altitudes.”  She highlighted the issue of orbital debris and said the FCC “must coordinate more closely with other federal actors to figure out what our national policies are for this jumble of new space activity.”

SpaceX’s network (known as “Starlink”) will need separate approval from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The FCC said its approval is conditioned on “SpaceX receiving a favorable or ‘qualified favorable’ rating of its EPFD [equivalent power flux-density limits] demonstration by the ITU prior to initiation of service.” SpaceX will also have to follow other ITU rules.

Like other operators, SpaceX will have to comply with FCC spectrum-sharing requirements. Outside the US, coexistence between SpaceX operations and other companies’ systems “are governed only by the ITU Radio Regulations as well as the regulations of the country where the earth station is located,” the FCC said.

SpaceX and several other companies are planning satellite broadband networks with much higher speeds and much lower latencies than existing satellite Internet services. SpaceX satellites are planned to orbit at altitudes of 1,110km to 1,325km, whereas the existing HughesNet satellite network has an altitude of about 35,400km.

SpaceX has said it will offer speeds of up to a gigabit per second, with latencies between 25ms and 35ms. Those latencies would make SpaceX’s service comparable to cable and fiber, while existing satellite broadband services have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements.

“SpaceX states that once fully deployed, the SpaceX system… will provide full-time coverage to virtually the entire planet,” the FCC order said.

The FCC previously approved requests from OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to offer broadband in the US from low-Earth orbit satellites. SpaceX is the first US-based operator to get FCC approval for such a system, the FCC said in an announcement.

“These approvals are the first of their kind for a new generation of large, non-geostationary satellite orbit [NGSO], fixed-satellite service [FSS] systems, and the Commission continues to process other, similar requests,” the FCC said.

SpaceX launched the first demonstration satellites for its broadband project last month. In addition to the 4,425 satellites approved by the FCC, SpaceX has also proposed an additional 7,500 satellites operating even closer to the ground, saying that this will boost capacity and reduce latency in heavily populated areas. It’s not clear when those satellites will launch.

Space debris

FCC approval of SpaceX’s application was unanimous. But the commission still has work to do in preventing all the new satellites from crashing into each other, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.

“The FCC has to tackle the growing challenge posed by orbital debris. Today, the risk of debris-generating collisions is reasonably low,” Rosenworcel said. “But they’ve already happened—and as more actors participate in the space industry and as more satellites of smaller size that are harder to track are launched, the frequency of these accidents is bound to increase. Unchecked, growing debris in orbit could make some regions of space unusable for decades to come. That is why we need to develop a comprehensive policy to mitigate collision risks and ensure space sustainability.”

FCC rules on satellite operations were originally “designed for a time when going to space was astronomically expensive and limited to the prowess of our political superpowers,” Rosenworcel said. “No one imagined commercial tourism taking hold, no one believed crowd-funded satellites were possible, and no one could have conceived of the sheer popularity of space entrepreneurship.”

SpaceX still needs to provide an updated debris prevention plan as part of a condition the FCC imposed on its approval.

The commission order said:

Although we appreciate the level of detail and analysis that SpaceX has provided for its orbital debris mitigation and end-of-life disposal plans, we agree with NASA that the unprecedented number of satellites proposed by SpaceX and the other NGSO FSS systems in this processing round will necessitate a further assessment of the appropriate reliability standards of these spacecraft, as well as the reliability of these systems’ methods for de-orbiting the spacecraft. Pending further study, it would be premature to grant SpaceX’s application based on its current orbital debris mitigation plan. Accordingly, we believe it is appropriate to condition grant of SpaceX’s application on the Commission’s approval of an updated description of the orbital debris mitigation plans for its system.

The approval of SpaceX’s application is conditioned on the outcome of future FCC rulemaking proceedings, so SpaceX would have to follow any new orbital debris rules passed by the FCC. We detailed the potential space debris problem in a previous article. Today, there are more than 1,700 operational satellites orbiting the Earth, among more than 4,600 overall, including those that are no longer operating.

SpaceX’s plan alone would nearly double the total number of orbiting satellites. SpaceX told the FCC that it has plans “for the orderly de-orbit of satellites nearing the end of their useful lives (roughly five to seven years) at a rate far faster than is required under international standards.”

Opposition from competitors

SpaceX’s application drew opposition from other satellite operators, who raised concerns about interference with other systems and debris. The FCC dismissed some of the complaints. For example, OneWeb wanted an unreasonably large buffer zone between its own satellites and SpaceX’s, the FCC said:

[T]he scope of OneWeb’s request is unclear and could be interpreted to request a buffer zone that spans altitudes between 1,015 and 1,385 kilometers. Imposition of such a zone could effectively preclude the proposed operation of SpaceX’s system, and OneWeb has not provided legal or technical justification for a buffer zone of this size. While we are concerned about the risk of collisions between the space stations of NGSO systems operating at similar orbital altitudes, we think that these concerns are best addressed in the first instance through inter-operator coordination.

If operators fail to agree on a coordination plan in the future, “the Commission may intervene as appropriate,” the FCC said.



JEDEC Forum: AI/ML for IoT; LP-WANs & Mediatek’s SoC Solutions – Part I.


Several new ideas, concepts and forecasts were made at JEDEC’s Mobile & IOT Forum on March 26, 2018 in Santa Clara, CA. In particular:

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Deep Learning will have a huge, positive impact on control of IoT devices (2 presentations summarized);
  • 3GPP specified NB-IoT is a strong contender among the many Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) for IoT;
  • New and different IT requirements at the network edge are needed to provide the low latency needed for real time control of IoT devices;  
  • MIPI Alliance specifications for Mobile and IoT were presented and MIPI’s role explained.

In this first of a two part event summary we provide highlights of the first two keynote speeches at the conference. In part II, we’ll look at more aspects of AI, MIPI, and the new IT requirements for the intelligent network edge as suggested by Lenovo.

Discussion of Selected Keynote Presentations:

  1. Signs of Intelligent Life: AI Simplifies IoT

In his opening keynote presentation, Stephen Lum of Samsung said that some IoT industry vertical device volumes have seen an explosion of demand due to the introduction of Artificial Intelligence into their usage model. The connection and control of those devices is driving tremendous data traffic volumes into the cloud where the AI/ML/DL actually takes place. For example, the Amazon Echo and Google Home connected device control has all voice recognition, language understanding, AI/ML/DL done in cloud resident data center compute servers owned and programmed by Amazon and Google, respectively. Autonomous vehicles will also have AI/ML/DL done in the cloud but likely at the network edge to provide ultra-low latency.

Stephen stated that a simple thesis of deep learning is that the more data used to train neural networks, the smarter the AI becomes. Some of his other cogent data points were the following:

  • New AI chips are being designed to efficiently process deep neural networks.
  • Solid state memory needs to keep pace with processors to prevent bottlenecks. See bullet points below for UFS.
  • Scalability becomes more critical as consumers adopt new services.
  • Universal Flash Storage (UFS) is a high performance, scalable interface for storage at the edge of the network.
  • UFS combines the key features of eMMC (embedded Multi-Media Controller) and SSDs (Solid State Drives).
  • UFS Card brings benefits to a removable storage form factor.

The diverse needs of three IoT industry verticals were said to be as follows:

  • Wearables (e.g. smart watches, fitness trackers, etc): Low power, Low density, Specialized form factors.
  • Smart Home (AKA Connected Home): Low cost, Low to mid density, Low to high bandwidth –depending on the device to be analyzed and/or controlled, 2-5 years longevity.
  • Automotive (more than just autonomous vehicles): High bandwidth, High density, Very high reliability, 7-10 years longevity.


  • Artificial Intelligence is enabling more innovative real-time services to be delivered to consumers.
  • AI in the Cloud simplifies edge devices, encourages their adoption with low cost of entry.
  • Autonomous vehicles, cannot be Cloud dependent, will become AI servers on wheels.
  • JEDEC has enabled tremendous advances in memory while expediting quick adoption and provides a firm foundation for memory-related ecosystems


  1. Opening a New Era of IoT -Opportunities and Solutions

Note: I related best to this presentation at it was the only one dealing exclusively with the network aspects of IoT.

Harrison Hsieh of Mediatek said at the beginning of his excellent presentation that we should look at the network required for IoT based on whether the devices/ end points were indoors or outdoors.

Let’s first look at an IoT indoor application presented by Mr. Hsieh:

Challenges of Smart Home (e.g. kitchen management, living room control, home heating/cooling/climate control, entertainment device control, security/surveillance, etc.):

  • Uncovered Zone: Bad connection, No signal, Dead end
  • Different Protocols (and wiring or wireless): Kitchen, Living room, Lighting, Climate control, Surveillance

Whole home IoT coverage requires Adaptive Networking which includes: Easy Setup/Configuration, Network Healing (after failure detection), Fast Roaming, Beam/Frequency Band Steering, Smart QoS, and Solid Security.

According to MediaTek, the IoT home system should be: Easy to Use, Have a unified protocol, be intuitive to install, have a single ecosystem with a user friendly interface (e.g. plug and play).

Harrison said that MediaTek’s Human to Machine interface solutions will focus on Hands-Free Voice Controlled Applications which are intuitive to configure and control diverse devices.  We strongly agree!

Next, the outdoor IoT applications face many challenges today, including:

a.] Complicated Technologies:

Unlicensed Wireless (e.g. LoRa WAN, Sigfox, etc)

Proprietary Technologies (too many)

Complex Deployment

b.] Limitation of Signal Coverage:

Low Penetration Capability (trees, buildings/walls, etc)

Limited Range with Single Base Station

c.] High Power Consumption:

Legacy Technologies

Not Dedicated or purpose built for outdoor IoT design (except for SIgfox and LoRA WAN, maybe LTE Category M/M1?)

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) for IoT [1.] need a dedicated solution, which Mediatek believes is 3GPP’s NB-IoT. They think it’s the clear winner when compared to other LTE standards, including LTE Category M/M1 which many carriers are using today for IoT applications.

In particular, LTE NB-IoT R14 [2] was said to offer the following attributes:

  • System Bandwidth of 200kHz
  • Down Link Peak Rate of 127kbps
  • Up Link Peak Rate of 18kbps(ST) / 158kbps(MT)
  • Link Budget (power consumption) of 164 dB
  • Low Memory Requirement (especially compared to other LTE standards)
  • Half Duplex mode
  • Battery life measured in years rather than days or weeks

Other advantages of LTE NB-IoT R14 include:

  • Location Accuracy (UTDOA/OTDOA)
  • Mobility Enhancement (Cell Reselection)
  • High Data Rate (Supports FOTA or firmware updates over the air)


Note 1. Market for LPWANs:

LPWANs will be the world’s fastest-growing connectivity technology through 2025, supporting 4 billion IoT devices by that date, according to market tracker ABI Research.

We expect to have more than 100 million NB-IoT connections on our network by 2020,” said Xiaotian Chen, general manager of China Unicom’s IoT group, said in a Cisco press statement.

China Mobile reported at MWC 2018 that it has launched NB-IoT networks in 346 cities using chipsets from five companies — Huawei, Mediatek, Qualcomm, RDA, and ZTE. The carrier has approved for use on its network 15 NB-IoT modules using the chips, according to a report from TechInsights analysts at the MWC 2018 event.

China Telecom, gave an update on its aggressive deployments of NB-IoT at a U.S. the MWC Americas event last September.

In the U.S., T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon plan to deploy NB-IoT with T-Mobile’s offering planned for 2018 with the others to follow.


Note 2.  3GPP’s LTE NB-IoT R14 briefly explained:

In 3GPP LTE Release 13, Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) was specified for providing wide-area connectivity for massive machine-type communications for IoT.

In 3GPP LTE Release 14, NB-IoT was further developed to deliver an enhanced user experience in selected areas through the addition of features such as increased positioning accuracy, increased peak data rates, the introduction of a lower device power class, improved non-anchor carrier operation, multicast, and authorization of coverage enhancements. 

According to MediaTek, 3GPP Release 14 imbues essential features for NB-IoT mobile applications such as:

  • Location accuracy via just modem (UTDOA/OTDOA)
  • Mobility enhancements from seamless cell re-selection
  • Push-to-talk voice messaging services
  • Higher efficiency by lowering power consumption for wearables
  • Supports massive industrial or city-wide deployments with multicast


Summary of Mediatek’s IoT LPWAN Solution:

Global Oriented NB-IoT Solution:

Support NB1 (Rel.13) & NB2 (Rel.14) Global Bands (450Mhz – 2.1Ghz)

Latest NB2 Modem Technology (Position allocation/Higher Data Rate/Cell Reselection)

Highly Integration with Low Power Design:

Leading SoC integrated design with Small form factor

Rich I/Os for various application

Optimized low power design in One-time battery

Comprehensive Product Portfolio:

Combination with MediaTek Connectivity technologies

Integrated and matured Software offerings

In closing, Harrison predicted that the IT user interface will change from keyboard to voice (it already has for this author on his smart phone and tablet) while NB-IOT market will “take off in 2019-2020” timeframe.

Mediatek’s System on a Chip (SoC) connectivity solutions are targeted at the home, on the move (mobile) and in the cloud.


Part II. of this event summary was published on March 29, 2018 at




MediaTek targets “huge” NB-IoT opportunity – Mobile World Live

AI/Deep Learning, New IT Requirements for Edge Computing & MIPI Alliance for Mobile and IoT


Many Technologies Must Deliver For IoT To Deliver

IoT will impact every aspect of our lives, including our homes, offices, cars and even our bodies. It will bring structural changes in global economy and as per McKenzie may generate upto $6.2 trillion in value by 2025. However many technologies need to deliver their expectations for IoT to deliver its promise.

Internet of Things or IoT aims to connect interrelated computing, mechanical and digital machines to a common platform. The devices will connect to each other as well as to the humans and will collect information about their environments by sensors. The number of such devices could touch 20 billion by 2020 as per Gartner. As per International Telecommunication Union number of humans using internet is 3.2 billion. In the emerging digital world, connected devices or things would overwhelm the humans.

The impact of IoT would be unprecedented. Home appliances could be remote controlled and warnings of faults would be available on time. In industries, control of various devices in the factories will shift from factory floor to the control rooms. Autonomous cars will predictive maintenance needs would become norm and their safety and fuel efficiency will improve. This will apply to other modes of transport too. Smart meters will synchronize demand supply curves and reduce distribution losses. Smart cities would emerge which would have improved services, less traffic congestion, better conservation of  water and energy, and improved quality of life. The chances of predicting onset of certain diseases and successfully managing them after patient catches them will improve. The list is endless.

The key characteristic of IoT is the amount of data. IDC’s Digital Universe study predicts the world’s data will rise from 4.4 Zettabytes (10^21 bytes) in 2013 to 44 by 2020, 10% of this will be from the IoT. By 2025, it would touch 180 Zettabytes. In some cases, the data generated by individual device would be enormous e.g. self driving car from Google generates 2 Petabytes (10^15 bytes) of data in a year. Besides, the proportion of data that can be analyzed will also increase from 22% in 2013 to 35% in 2020, driven by IoT.

Cloud is often considered as an innovation to business models as it allows companies to outsource their storage and computing needs, while they focus on their core competencies. However, with IoT it is technology enabler. If all IoT devices need to store and process their own data this will make IT a significant part of such devices, forcing change in assembly line processes as well significantly increasing their maintenance costs. One way to reduce these entry barriers for adoption of IoT is to use cloud for storing and computing needs. The cloud infrastructure will allow for analysis besides efficient storage. However current capacities of cloud providers will be challenged. As per the website, the capacity of data centres offering public cloud was 465 Exabytes(10^18 bytes)  in 2017. The scale up needed to accommodate IoT is massive. Currently, hard disks and magnetic tapes capable of storing data in Terabytes (10^12 bytes) are available. However, as data will increase exponentially, cloud providers will need to work on other storage technologies e.g DNA, HVD etc

5G telecom network
This data will generate network traffic. IoT cannot deliver its promise on existing networks and it needs a a network with much higher speed, low latency and consistent performance. Rollout of 5G network is critical for widespread adoption of IoT. The proposed speed is 20 Gbits/sec as compared to 100 Mbits/sec for 4G networks. This would be accompanied by limits on user experienced speeds i.e per-user download speed of 100Mbps and upload speed of 50Mbps rather than just the theoretical maximum, lower latency at 4 ms, support for higher device densities at 1 million connected devices per square kilometer etc. These parameters are specially targeted for IoT. Conversely, IoT is an important use case of 5G networks to justify the investments. Some applications of IoT e.g. driverless vehicles not only need to transfer huge amount of data but also with minimal latency as delays could be dangerous, for a car needs to make real time decisions to avoid accidents.  The latency of 4G was at least an order of magnitude worse and hence incapable of supporting driverless cars.

Fog computing
This latency issue will also warrant change in cloud paradigm. One way to analyze IoT data is near the devices that produce it and act on that data, referred to as Fog computing. The fog nodes, can be deployed anywhere with a network connection e.g. on a factory floor, on top of a power pole, , in a vehicle, or on an oil rig. This reduces bandwidth pressure on the long distance network and can handle cases where latency is critical. The percentage of devices that need computing power near to themselves will increase in future.

Analytics and Machine Learning
Data needs analysis. Big data algorithms hosted in cloud are needed for this analysis as data would come in various formats, huge volume and needs to be processed at fast speeds so that it could to be useful. But one of the proclaimed benefits of IoT is in predictions. Here Machine Learning (ML) could play a critical role. ML is defined as the ability of a machine to vary the outcome of a situation or behavior based on knowledge or observation which is essential for IoT solutions. ML could allow useful patterns, correlations and anomalies to be searched. It can also predict unknown outcomes. Different ML algorithms will need to be “trained’ for different use case of IoT

Security and Privacy
Security and privacy issues are significant hurdles to IoT penetration. The IoT devices will be always on and connected bringing new challenges to security. They will be additional challenges due to number of devices involved for which security measures will need constant upgrades.

In 2013, a hacker got access to credit card information of customers of Target by using network credentials taken from a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning vendor. 2015, 2 researchers demonstrated a wireless hack into Jeep Cherokee, first taking control of the entertainment system and windshield wipers, and then disabling the accelerator.

There is additional issue of privacy as huge amount of personal data would be captured by IoT devices which could be hacked or intentionally used for business purposes.

IoT devices will need battery power to remain always connected. New wireless standards such as Bluetooth® Smart (also known as “BLE”) or zigbee reduce battery consumption and allow coin cell batteries to be used. But the sheer numbers have led to exploration of an alternative approach called Energy Harvesting (EH). Also called power harvesting it is a technology that aims at collecting energy from ambient external sources such as heat, light, vibrations, radio waves etc. It produces very low power levels on the order of several microwatts (10-6W) to milliwatts (10-3W) but that is enough for sensors that are battery optimized.

IoT will impact every aspect of our lives, including our homes, offices, cars and even our bodies. It will bring structural changes in global economy and as per McKenzie may generate upto $6.2 trillion in value by 2025. However many technologies need to deliver their expectations for IoT to deliver its promise

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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internet of things smart cities computing technology

Sandeep K Chhabra

Sandeep K Chhabra is a software professional working as General Manager at Ericsson India Global Services Pvt Ltd (EGIL). He has more than 23 years of experience of working in IT industry. He is a B Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Delhi and has cleared CFA Level (III) exam. He is active on social media and mostly writes about current trends in Science and Technology.

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IHS Markit: Data center network equipment revenue reached $13.7 billion in 2017

Data center network equipment revenue, including data center Ethernet switches, application delivery controllers (ADCs) and software-defined enterprise WAN (SD-WAN), totaled $13.7 billion in 2017, increasing 13 percent over the previous year.

In the short term, investment in physical infrastructure is still driving data center network equipment revenue growth. However, in 2018 and 2019 the effect of server virtualization will slow the market, with fewer — but higher capacity — servers reducing the need for data center Ethernet switch ports, along with the move to virtual ADCs.

“The adoption of lower-priced bare metal switches will cause revenue growth to slow,” said Clifford Grossner, Ph.D., senior research director and advisor, cloud and data center research practice, IHS Markit. “The ongoing shift to the cloud not only moves network equipment out of the enterprise data center, but also requires less equipment, as the cloud represents data center consolidation on a wide scale.”

Data center network equipment highlights

  • Data center network equipment revenue was on the rise, year over year, in all regions: North America and Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA) each increased 10 percent in 2017; Asia Pacific (APAC) was up 23 percent; and Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) rose 2 percent.
  • 25GE and 100GE data center switching ports increased three-fold year over year.
  • New 200/400GE developments are underway, and shipments expected to begin in 2019.
  • Long-term growth in the data center network equipment market is expected to slow to 6 percent in 2022, as SD-WAN revenue growth slows due to the migration from the enterprise dater center to the cloud.
  • SD-WAN revenue is anticipated to reach $3.6 billion by 2022; the next wave for SD-WAN includes increased analytics, with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) providing multi-cloud connectivity.

Revenue results from key segments

  • Data center Ethernet switch revenue rose 13 percent over the previous year, reaching $11.4 billion in 2017.
  • SD-WAN market revenue hit $444.1 million for the full-year 2017.
  • Bare metal switch revenue was up 60 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • ADC revenue was down 5 percent year over year in 2017.

Research synopsis

The IHS Markit Data Center Networks Intelligence Service provides quarterly worldwide and regional market size, vendor market share, forecasts through 2022, analysis and trends for data center Ethernet switches by category (purpose-built, bare metal, blade, and general purpose), port speed (1/10/25/40/50/100/200/400GE) and market segment (enterprise, telco and cloud service provider). The intelligence service also covers application delivery controllers by category (hardware-based appliances, virtual appliances), SD-WAN (appliances and control and management software), FC SAN switches by type (chassis, fixed) and FC SAN HBAs.

Vendors tracked include A10, ALE, Arista, Array Networks, Aryaka, Barracuda, Broadcom, Cavium, Cisco, Citrix, CloudGenix, Dell, F5, FatPipe, HPE, Huawei, InfoVista, Juniper, KEMP, Radware, Riverbed, Silver Peak, Talari, TELoIP, VMware, ZTE and others.

OCP – Linux Foundation Partnership Accelerates Megatrend of Open Software running on Open Hardware

“From 1876 to 2013 telecom and network equipment design was proprietary….We are now in the 3rd phase of open networking transformation,” said Arpit Joshipura, Linux Foundation GM of Networking at the 2018 OCP Summit.   The network equipment design  transformation is shown in the figure below:

During his OCP Summit keynote speech, Arpit announced a partnership between OCP and the Linux Foundation to further the development of software and hardware-based open source networking. The organizations will work together to create stronger integration and testing, new open networking features, more scalability, a reduction in CAPEX/OPEX, greater harmonization with switch network operating systems, and increased interoperability for network functions virtualization (NFV) network transformation.

Virtualization of network functions and the resulting disaggregation of hardware and software have created interest in open source at both layers. OCP provides an open source option for the hardware layer, and The Linux Foundation’s OPNFV project integrates OCP along with other open source software projects into relevant NFV reference architectures. Given this alignment, OCP and OPNFV already have been collaborating on activities such as plugfests and joint demos. Now they have committed to expanded collaborative efforts which will accelerate the megatrend of totally open networking.

“It’s exciting to see the principles of open source software development come to hardware, and OCP has already made a substantial contribution to some Linux Foundation project plugfests and demos,” said Arpit Joshipura in the referenced press release. “We see OCP as an integral partner as we explore new opportunities for NFV deployments, performance, features, and footprint. Global network operators agree and ranked OCP very high on a list of the most important projects for OPNFV in a recent survey. We look forward to continued and intensified collaboration across ecosystems.”

The key market disruptors- virtualization of equipment functions, software defined networking and disaggregation of equipment are shown below with the applicable software and hardware entities on the left, and sample open source projects on the right of the figure below.

Arpit said the drivers behind this huge move to open source software running on open source hardware are 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).  Mandatory automation of functions (e.g. provisioning and configuration) are (and will be) required to support the high speeds/low latency of 5G and the huge number of IoT endpoints.

The Linux Foundation Networking (LNF) group’s vision includes automating cloud services, network infrastructure, and IoT services as shown in this illustration:

The Linux Foundation Open Source Networking activities include participants from telecom carriers, cloud computing, and enterprises. As shown in the illustration below, 9 out of 10 of the most important projects of participants will use open source software with all 10 of the largest network equipment vendors actively involved and 60% of global subscribers represented.  Shared innovation and a 15 minute “new service creation time” are selected goals of the LFN projects.

The .Linux Foundation is leading the way forward to harmonize open source software efforts and get them into the community. In the figure below, the services, software and infrastructure are shown on the left, the various open source projects are shown in the center, and the various standards organizations (but not the actual standards) are shown on the right.  It should be duly noted that there are no official standards bodies working on open networking specifications to provide multi-vendor interoperability of exposed interfaces or even APIs within a single piece of equipment.

To clarify that point, Arpit wrote via email:  “LFN (which hosts ONAP), is working on de-facto automation open source aspects independent of 5G/4G. The 5G services mandate automation due to IOT and new services that are coming up. The specific specs of 5G are out of scope for Networking Automation. OCP and LFN partnership is limited to what I spoke at the OCP Summit keynote.”

Note:  There are more than 20 open source projects for networking currently active at the Linux Foundation (see above illustration).  LF also has expanded lately into areas as diverse as software for IoT devices, storage and blockchain.  It remains to be seen if the OCP – LNF partnership will create defacto standards (e.g. for virtualization of functions in 5G or IoT) or try to enforce interoperability through certification programs. The current motivation seems to come from carriers like AT&T which are demanding open source software on open source hardware to lower their CAPEX/OPEX and to improve automation of network functions.


Mr. Joshipura asserted that the LFN+OCP partnership would produce the very best of Open Source Software & Hardware.  The total community collaboration will include: Hardware Vendors + Silicon Vendors + OEM/Manufacturers + Software Vendors, Systems Integrators + End Users.


Arpit provided a strong conclusion via email:

“Open source networking software is creating de-facto platforms that result in faster innovation across many IT communities. Collaboration between the leaders in open hardware (OCP) and Open Source Software (Linux Foundation Networking) will help propel this even further and broaden the scope of true open networking. This industry collaboration allows faster deployment, but still offers innovation on top.”


Vertical Systems Group 2017 Global Ethernet Service Provider Leaderboard

France’s Orange remained first while AT&T improved its position to second place in Vertical Systems Group’s (VSG) newly released 2017 Global Ethernet Leaderboard report.  UK’s Colt was third while CenturyLink made its first appearance in the rankings finishing in fourth place. VSG said slim margins separated the leaders.

“With very slim margins separating the leading global service providers, Orange remains in first position, AT&T advances to second, and CenturyLink makes its debut,” Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group said in a press release. “To serve this specialized global market, key providers are increasing deployments of higher speed Ethernet connectivity to MPLS, VPLS and cloud services, while transitioning customers to more dynamic, advanced SDN-based hybrid WAN and SD-WAN offerings.”

VSG also noted that the Global provider Leaderboard companies that have received MEF 3.0 certification are AT&T, Colt, CenturyLink and Verizon. Challenge tier companies attaining the distinction are SingTel, T-Systems, Tata, Telefonica and Vodafone.



Last month, VSG said that CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, Windstream and Cox were, in that order, the top finishers in the U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard last year. The results are noteworthy because it was the first time since 2005 that AT&T did not finish as the leading provider.


Global Ethernet Service Provider Leaderboard: CenturyLink Makes its Debut



Korea Telecom to launch 5G service in March 2019 with what endpoints?

Korea Telecom (KT) announced today that it plans to offer 5G cellular service in March 2019, according to Yonhap and other news sources.

“It is true 5G only when coverage is guaranteed,” Oh Seong-mok, president of KT’s network business division, told reporters in Seoul.  “KT will launch the 5G service for the first time in the world that combines true mobility, excellent service and nationwide coverage,” the KT executive added.

During this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics, KT offered a trial service of its 5G service for the first time in the world, allowing athletes and visitors to experience data transmission speeds 40-50 times faster than LTE.

Industry watchers said that at present, it is virtually impossible to set up a 5G nationwide network on par with existing LTE coverage, so full-fledged services will invariably be offered in major metropolitan areas first.  Customers may not be able to immediately use KT’s 5G service next year because major makers of smartphones and silicon, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Qualcomm Technologies Inc., will only start shipping smart phones and 5G chip sets between the end of this year and the first half of 2019, KT said.  Of course, those smart phones and silicon in them will not be compliant with the IMT 2020 standard which won’t be completed till late 2020.

Oh Seong-mok, president of KT’s network business, speaks at a press conference at the firm’s Gwanghwamun building in downtown Seoul, Thursday, stressing the firm will launch commercial 5G network services early next year based on its successful provision of the 5G trial service at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. / Courtesy of KT


KT said it has no plans to commercialize its 5G network based on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) currently being championed by U.S. mobile carrier Verizon which plans to provide fixed 5G with an FWA system in the first half of this year.  Mr. Oh said commercializing the 5G service based on FWA is a step backward as the technology has already been seen before.  That comment comes after KT collaborated with Verizon on 5G video calling tests during last month’s Super Bowl, illustrating the fierce international competition to bring 5G to market first.


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