India’s Telco and Infrastructure Groups: Fiber Optic Network Growth Essential

Growth in fiber optic network deployments are essential to further improve the quality of telecom services and support the surging mobile Internet demand as well as have potential to bring substantial social and economic benefits to consumers, businesses and state governments, India’s telco and infrastructure groups said.  The Delhi-based telecom body represents Reliance JioBharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

“Growth of fibre is the foremost priority for the ongoing exponential increase in data demand and improved quality of services,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director-general SP Kochhar told ETTelecom.

Currently, India has an optical fiber-based network spanning across 28 lakh (100,000) kilometres as against the target set up by the National Broadband Mission to deploy as much as 50 lakh kilometres of optical fiber by 2024.

Kochhar’s views were seconded by the Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association (Taipa) that lobbies for companies such as Bharti Infratel, American Tower Corporation (ATC) India, Ascend Telecom Infrastructure, Indus Towers and Sterlite Technologies.

“The fiberisation of existing telecom infrastructure has the potential to bring substantial social and economic benefits to governments, citizens and businesses through an increase in productivity, competitiveness, improvements in service delivery, and optimal use of scarce resources like spectrum,” Tilak Raj Dua, director-general at Taipa said.

Editor’s Note:

The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is a project initiated in 2011 and funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund to provide broadband connectivity to over 200,000 gram panchayats of India at an initial cost of ₹200 billion (US$2.8 billion).  This is to be achieved utilizing the existing optical fiber and extending it to the Gram Panchayats and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), is a special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), PSU set up under companies act by Govt of India under Rule 1956 has been registered on Feb 25, 2012 for management and Operation of NOFN.  More info at: http://www.bbnl.nic.in/index1.aspx?lsid=13&lev=1&lid=13&langid=1

Info) Indian Railways Optical Fiber Network Map by Railtel | RRB EXAM PORTAL - Railway Jobs, NTPC, ALP, ASM Exam Community

     Indian Railways Fiber Optic Network Map

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The pan India average of fiber to the tower ratio presently stands at 32% as against the target of 70% by 2024, envisaged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), according to Taipa statistics.

Following the progression in the fourth-generation (4G) network deployments over the last couple of years, and the upcoming fifth-generation (5G) cellular technology, experts caution that low fiberization would eventually impact the service delivery, and a uniform policy across the country is much needed.

“In the last four years we have not had an increase in backhaul spectrum, hence, we are dealing with constrained factors and have to manage the quality of services based on existing capacity, for everybody’s good,” Kochhar said.

Coai said that the increased fiberization would meet the present requirement of bandwidth and future technologies such as 5G, and other emerging technologies,” Kochhar said and added that the early allocation of E and V bands to meet the backhaul requirements is also being considered by the government.

Dua further said that in order to address the increased data consumption in rural and urban areas and remote working following the Covid-19 outbreak, the role of fiberisation to propel digitalisation has increased multifold.

India, according to Crisil needs a tectonic shift in the fiberization landscape, and investment in fiberised backhaul infrastructure providing unlimited capacity and higher data speeds has to gain further traction if 5G has to become a reality.

Sandeep Aggarwal, co-chairman of the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (Tepc) believes that it is imperative to have a robust fibre infrastructure in the country to complement the next-generation or 4G and 5G technologies in line with the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) unveiled in 2018.

Former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh-headed Tepc represents Aksh Optifibre, Birla Cables, Paramount Wires & Cables, Himachal Futuristic Communications, Finolex Cables and Polycab Wires.

“With nearly 3 million kilometres of optic fibre cable (OFC) presently deployed, India will need to further enhance the footprint with an average of 2-kilometre of fibre per person,” Aggarwal said and added that more than 1 million kilometres of cable TV (CATV) fibre has been laid over the last one year in the country.

Private and public sector entities such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and RailTel majorly contribute to the current fibre footprint in the country in addition to Centre’s ambitious BharatNet program that further aims to deploy nearly 8 lakh kilometres of fibre network separately.

There is a need to adopt new business models such as hiving off fibre assets via the Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) model that will help in reducing capital expense requirements and allowing telecom operators to focus on topline growth opportunities, according to Aggarwal.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio and Sunil Mittal-driven Bharti Airtel have already sold-off their fiber verticals to become financially-nimble pure-play telecom services companies.

Taipa’s Dua feels that the upcoming cities would be built on the basis of readily available optical fiber cables, and next-generation telecom infrastructure and technologies like 5G.

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References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/fiber-deployment-critical-for-quality-of-service-economic-benefits-telecom-infrastructure-companies/79208500

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/5g-is-very-much-dependent-on-fiberization-airtel-cto-randeep-sekhon/78444072

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/preparing-for-the-future-how-fiber-networks-will-support-growing-telecom-demand/78632667

ICRA: Indian Telecom Industry Must Migrate from Copper to Dense Fiber Optic Networks

 

Swisscom achieves 50 Gbps on a fixed PON connection – a world first!

Swisscom has achieved transmission speeds of 50 Gbps  in a real PON (Passive Optical Network) environment test – a world first, according to the company.  Swisscom has upgraded existing OLT (Optical Line Termination) hardware with a 50 Gbps PON Line Card prototype to reach a download speed of 50 Gbps and an upload speed of 25 Gbps on a fixed network.

The PON technology can be ready to market and deployed in around two years, according to Swisscom. It can be an option for business customers initially. Progressive network virtualization will enable companies to use the bandwidth they need on a flexible basis in line with their requirements.

The 10 Gbps service is expected to be sufficient for the residential mass market for several years yet, the company said. The 50 Gbps option allows for flexible deployment using existing fibre-optic infrastructure.

Markus Reber, Head of Swisscom Networks, said: “There is no question that the bandwidth need will continue to increase over the coming years. That’s why, here at Swisscom, we are already considering how our technology needs to develop to ensure that Switzerland continues to be ready to take advantage of the latest digital services with the best possible experience in the future. The results of testing based on PON technology and architecture clearly demonstrate that we have some powerful options available.”

“In my opinion, PON with 50 Gbit/s will be an option for the business customer market initially. Progressive network virtualisation will enable companies to use the bandwidth they need on a flexible basis in line with their requirements, for instance. In contrast, the 10 Gbit/s already available in the residential mass market should be more than enough for several years to come. However, the 50 Gbit/s option offers even more opportunities, as it allows the existing fibre optic infrastructure to be deployed in a more versatile way. As an example, the technology will soon facilitate access to mobile communication masts, particularly for 5G, as the same network can be used as the one already built to connect households. With a transmission speed of 50 Gbit/s, there is ample bandwidth available.”

The technology also will support fiber optic access to mobile communication masts, particularly for 5G, since the same network can be used as the one already built to connect households.

Swisscom says that “over the coming years, the development of digital applications will result in a similar growth in bandwidth need as seen in recent years, when it increased more than tenfold within a decade. Swisscom is therefore investing in network expansion on an ongoing basis, deploying the latest innovative technologies to do so and safeguarding Switzerland’s high degree of digital competitiveness.”

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In April 2020, market research powerhouse Omdia (owned by Informa) forecast that In the 2018-2025 timeframe, the PON market will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3% to be worth $8.4 billion by 2025. “This market remains in an upswing as operators continue to expand and upgrade their fiber-based access networks for both residential and non-residential subscribers and applications,” states the Omdia team in their report (published prior to the global impact of COVID-19, it should be noted).

PON and xDSL/Gfast equipment market by major segment, 2017-2025.

Omdia: PON and xDSL/Gfast equipment market by major segment, 2017–2025

Growth in the PON market will be driven by increasing demand for next-generation PON equipment, including 10G GPON, 10G EPON, NG-PON2 and 25G/50G PON, according to Omdia: By 2021, most GPON OLT (optical line terminal) shipments are expected to be 10G.

Omdia expects demand for NG-PON2 equipment (which is expensive because it includes tunable lasers) is expected to be limited, with significant deployments anticipated only by one major operator, Verizon.

In Western Europe, PON investments are only just starting: That market is set for a CAGR of 16.5% to be worth $1.6 billion in 2025.

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References:

https://www.swisscom.ch/en/about/news/2020/10/08-weltpremiere.html

https://www.swisscom.ch/content/dam/swisscom/en/about/news/2020/10/08-weltpremiere/08-weltpremiere-en.pdf.res/08-weltpremiere-en.pdf

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/swisscom-reaches-50-gbps-in-real-network-environment–1357116

http://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=758638

Deutsche Telekom in 10-year contract with Telefonica Germany for FTTH access

Deutsche Telekom has extended its contract with Telefonica for access to its broadband network for the next ten years. Under the pact, which applies in Germany, Deutsche Telekom will grant Telefonica access to FTTH lines with download speeds of up to 1 Gbps for the first time. Telefonica will market Telekom’s FTTH connections to its customers.
This is the first time that a company has decided to use Deutsche Telekom’s FTTH network and follows a recent acceleration Germany’s fiber roll-out. Deutsche Telekom said it wants to conclude similar agreements with other providers.
A pioneering deal: Deutsche Telekom is to open up its fiber-optic networks to competitors on a long-term basis.
Image Credit:  Deutsche Telekom

This contract is an extension to a fiber-optic network deal which was first agreed in 2013, and will give O2 customers in Germany access to speeds of up to 1 Gbps.  Telefonica will also be able to use existing VSDL/vectoring lines. The parties will submit the contract to the Federal Network Agency over the coming days for clearance. The agreement will become effective in spring 2021.

Telefonica already uses Deutsche Telekom’s VDSL network, which reaches 33 million households in Germany vs. approximately 1.8 million households with fiber-optic connections.   Deutsche Telekom will use the proceeds from the contract with Telefonica to further develop its fiber-optic network.

The cooperation is a long-term one and will apply throughout Germany. The VDSL and FTTH lines from Deutsche Telekom are wholesale products. Using Deutsche Telekom’s network, Telefónica Deutschland can provide its o2 customers with its own products. Both parties will submit the contract to the Federal Network Agency over the coming days.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Dirk Wössner said: “This is a pioneering deal for the buildout of the fiber-optic infrastructure in Germany for the next decade, based on a voluntary commercial agreement between two large market players from which many people and companies in Germany will benefit.  Deutsche Telekom stands for open networks and cooperations. And we are emphasizing this with this wide-reaching cooperation agreement. This contract will secure the utilisation of our broadband network. And we will receive financial resources that we will re-invest in our networks.”  Wössner added that the company would like to come to similar agreements with other operators in Germany with a view to expanding FTTH access.

Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Germany/O2, said: “The long-term cooperation with Deutsche Telekom gives us planning security. In future, we will be able to offer our O2 customers access to the fiber optic network, especially in large cities. On this basis we can offer our customers first-class convergent products.”

These two companies are already partners for mobile communications. Deutsche Telekom connects 5,000 Telefonica mobile sites to its fibre network. The two sides are also cooperating with Vodafone to improve mobile coverage in Germany.

The collaborative focus from Deutsche Telekom is contrasted against the efforts of Vodafone, which is similarly building out its fibre network. In July, Vodafone said that it was ahead of schedule to deliver gigabit internet to 25 million German homes by 2021, having surpassed 21 million houses.

References:
https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/dt-expanded-cooperation-telefonica-deutschland-o2-609562
https://www.digitaltveurope.com/2020/10/07/deutsche-telekom-and-telefonica-deutschland-sign-10-year-fixed-line-deal-including-ftth-access/

Telia International Carrier Business (#1 Internet Backbone Network) Sold for $1.3B to Swedish Pension Funds

Telia Company today announced that it reached an agreement with Polhem Infra for the sale of its international carrier business.  At the same time, Telia Company entered a long-term strategic partnership with Telia Carrier, securing continuous world-leading network solutions to Telia’s customers.  The acquisition is Polhem Infra’s first investment in this field. The company is jointly owned by the Swedish pension funds First AP Fund, Third AP Fund and Fourth AP Fund.

Allison Kirkby, president and CEO of Telia, confirmed that the majority of the proceeds from the sale of Telia Carrier to the Polhem Infra unit “will be used to strengthen our balance sheet and thereby provide a solid financial base for Telia Company and our shareholders.  Telia can now fully concentrate on our Nordic and Baltic footprint.”

Telia Carrier holds the #1 position in the global ranking of companies with Internet backbone networks. Content, services and operator customers of Telia Carrier account for 65% of global Internet routes. Its network spans across Europe, North America, and Asia, connecting customers in more than 120 countries, with the Scandinavian footprint being particularly strong through the so-called Scandinavian Ring – the part of Telia Carrier’s network that connects major Baltic and Nordic cities.

The change of ownership will enable Telia Carrier, with its 530 employees, “to drive a level of investment in network development, services and customer care programs that brings benefits to content providers, operators and enterprises beyond that of any competitor.”

Kirkby has been CEO since early May, but has already been making her mark. As well as streamlining the Nordic telco’s operators, she has also assembled a new-look management team.

Jefferies said the sale of Telia Carrier appeared supportive and highlighted the use of near 30% of proceeds to top up the dividend.  “This is a welcome first move of the new, highly respected CEO,” the investment bank said in a note to clients.  Jefferies said the sale of Telia Carrier appeared supportive and highlighted the use of almost 30% of the proceeds to top up the dividend.

Nick Del Deo of Moffett-Nathanson wrote about Telia Carrier vs Cogent Communications (U.S.) in a note to clients:

While Telia Carrier doesn’t break out its business mix, a substantial share of its revenue comes from transit, likely in the same range as Cogent’s, or about one third of the total. It’s one of the four largest transit providers globally, along with CenturyLink, Cogent, and NTT. A broad suite of other services – DIA, wavelengths, wholesale voice, etc. – round out its product portfolio. Like Cogent, its internet backbone spans the globe, with its presence concentrated in Europe and North America. The comparisons may not be perfect, but Telia Carrier claims to have 67K km route miles of fiber vs. Cogent’s 93K km of intercity fiber, and 300 PoPs globally vs. the ~1K carrier-neutral data centers to which Cogent connects. Their route maps look quite similar, but Cogent extends into more small markets than Telia Carrier and has more of a presence in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Telia Carrier’s Global Fiber Optic Network:

Image Credit: Telia Carrier

References:

https://www.teliacarrier.com/

https://www.teliacarrier.com/our-network.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-telia-company-divestment/telia-to-sell-international-carrier-business-for-1-billion-idUSKBN26R1JW

https://www.lightreading.com/services/telia-flogs-international-carrier-business-for-$11b/d/d-id/764436?

AT&T ends DSL sales while CWA criticizes AT&T’s broadband deployments

AT&T: DSL is Dead:

According to a message board post on DSL Reports, AT&T notified customers on billing statements in August that effective Oct. 1 it would no longer accept new orders for its copper-based DSL service.  The notice also said that existing DSL subs will no longer be able to make speed changes to their respective DSL service.

The message board author wrote:

“On my August AT&T statement, traditional DSL is officially grandfathered effective October 1st. No new orders (moves, installs, speed change, etc.). Hopefully they will still allow promos….”

That’s no surprise to this author.  AT&T’s DSL subscriber base has been eroding steadily – losing almost 350,000 subs over the past couple of years. In Q2 2020, AT&T shed 23,000 DSL subs, ending the period with just 463,000.

“We are focused on enhancing our network with more advanced, higher speed technologies like fiber and wireless, which consumers are demanding,” AT&T said in a statement. “We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1. Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

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AT&T Fiber Update:

AT&T also announced three new price points for its AT&T Fiber tiers and said that all new and existing AT&T Fiber Internet 100, Internet 300 and Internet 1000 subscribers would enjoy unlimited data without additional charges. AT&T Fiber started offering the new deals as a standalone product with no annual contracts for new customers on Sunday.

As of Q2-2020, AT&T had 4.3 million AT&T Fiber customers with nearly two million of them on 1-gigabit speeds. Overall, AT&T has about 15.3 million broadband subscribers while Charter has 28 million and Comcast has over 29 million.

AT&T’s fiber tier announcement comes after AT&T CEO John Stankey told a Goldman Sachs investor conference in September that “priority number one” is investing in fiber for 5G and FTTP services.

The new prices are also an indication that AT&T intends to ramp up its drive on FTTP sales in the wake of a recent study showing that many of AT&T’s new subs were coming from existing customers upgrading to fiber rather than from gaining market share from cable Internet operators (MSOs).

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CWA Calls Out AT&T’s broadband efforts:

Coincidently today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) criticized AT&T’s lack of fiber deployments.  The report, co-authored with the National Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) stated:

AT&T is making the digital divide worse and failing its customers and workers by not investing in crucial buildout of fiber-optic infrastructure that is the standard for broadband networks worldwide. The company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

An in-depth analysis of AT&T’s network shows the company has made fiber available to fewer than a third of households in its footprint, halting most residential deployment after mid-2019. The analysis also shows that 28% of households in AT&T’s footprint do not have access to service that meets the FCC’s standard for high-speed internet, and in rural counties 72% of households lack this access. In some places, AT&T is decommissioning its outdated DSL networks and leaving customers with no option but wireless service, which is not a substitute for wireline service.

In all, AT&T has made fiber-to-the-home available for fewer than one-third of the households in its network. AT&T’s employees — many of whom are Communications Workers of America (CWA) members — know that the company could be doing much more to connect its customers to high-speed Internet if it invested in upgrading its wireline network with fiber. They know the company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

CWA recommends that AT&T dedicate a substantial share of its free cash flow to investment in next-generation networks across rural and urban communities, make its low-income product offerings available widely, and stop laying off its skilled, unionized workers and outsourcing work to low-wage, irresponsible subcontractors.

Editor’s Note:

According to CWA, AT&T has deployed fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to only 28% of the households in its fiber coverage area as of the end of June 30, 2019.

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The CWA/NDIA report said AT&T has targeted more affluent, non-rural areas for its fiber upgrades. Houses with fiber have a median income that’s 34% higher than those with DSL only. Across the rural counties in AT&T’s 21-state footprint, only a miniscule 5% have access to fiber, according to the report.

According to the report, 14.93 million—out of almost 53 million households—have access to AT&T’s fiber service. Among states, AT&T’s FTTH build out is the lowest in Michigan with 14% have access followed by Mississippi (15%) and Arkansas (16%).

“AT&T is also failing to make fiber available to the majority of its customer base in cities,” according to the report.  “While most of AT&T’s fiber build has focused on urban areas—96 percent of households with access to fiber in AT&T’s footprint are in predominantly urban counties—the company hasn’t built enough fiber to reach the majority of urban residents. Seventy percent of households in urban counties still lack access to fiber from AT&T because the company has made fiber available to only 14.7 million households out of 48.4 million total households in these counties.”

The report also said there were many areas in AT&T’s footprint where it doesn’t offer the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadband” definition of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

“For 28% of the households in its network footprint, AT&T’s internet service does not meet the FCC’s 25/3 Mbps benchmark to be considered broadband,” the report said.  A key recommendation is that “AT&T must upgrade its network in rural communities to meet the FCC’s broadband definition, at least, and renew its efforts to deploy next-generation fiber.”

The report noted that in some areas where AT&T doesn’t provide faster speeds, cable operators, such as Comcast and Charter do.

“Even where that access is available from another provider­—typically a cable provider—consumers are deprived of the benefits of competition in price, choice and service quality,” the report said.

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AT&T is counting on fiber for both residential and commercial services, including AT&T TV. In order to win over customers from cable operators, AT&T has paired its 1-Gig service with AT&T TV.

Regarding DSL, the report states: “AT&T’s poor maintenance of its DSL networks, with limited capacity for new connections, results in would-be new customers in some areas being denied service entirely or told they can only subscribe to fixed wireless service (a 4G wireless connection for home use, designed for rural areas).”

As expected, AT&T refuted the claims made in the CWA/NDIA report in a statement to FierceTelecom and Broadband World News on Monday afternoon.

“Our investment decisions are based on the capacity needs of our network and demand for our services. We do not ‘redline’ internet access and any suggestion that we do is wrong.  We have invested more in the United States over the past 5 years (2015-2019) than any other public company. We have spent more than $125 billion in our U.S. wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. Our 5G network provides high-speed internet access nationwide, our fiber network serves more 18 million customer locations and we continue to invest to expand both networks.”

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New Fiber Optics Market Report:

Finally, a new report by Technavio forecasts that the global fiber optics market size will grow by USD 2.44 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of almost 5% throughout the forecast period.

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Fiber Optics Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

Image Credit:  Technavio

The increase in the number of FTTH homes and subscribers is the key factor driving the market growth. A higher number of customers are opting for fiber optic connections to leverage broadband services. This reduces the requirements for customer premises equipment (CPE) and distribution point unit (DPU).

References:

https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r32848850-DSL-is-officially-grandfathered-Get-orders-in-BEFORE-October

https://cwa-union.org/news/releases/new-reports-detail-how-telecoms-companies-att-are-failing-provide-broadband-and-good

https://cwa-union.org/sites/default/files/20201005attdigitalredlining.pdf

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cwa-calls-out-at-t-s-lack-fiber-its-dsl-footprint

http://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=764417

AT&T CEO: Fiber, Stories and (Video) Content to drive future revenues and growth

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201005005444/en/

 

 

AT&T CEO: Fiber, Stories and (Video) Content to drive future revenues and growth

At Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, AT&T CEO John T. Stankey said that broadband connectivity was a key focus area for the company. “Anything that we can do to put more fiber out into the network, serve both our consumer and business segments and use that to power what over time is going to become a much more dense and distributed wireless network. And that’s, first of all, one of our key focus areas and something that we see as being very important to us,” he said.

What Stankey said next was somewhat of a surprise, “We think we’re great storytellers, and that we have a unique ability to produce (video) content that’s special and different. And we’d like to continue doing that and telling those great stories and then using the combination of that connectivity in those stories to wrap it in software.”

When asked where should AT&T allocate capital, the CEO said:

  1.  Invest in its core business, which is fiber and broadband connectivity on 5G
  2.  Software driven entertainment products with HBO Max at the forefront of that, but it is a multi-year effort.
  3.  Ensuring that AT&T operations are set up to be successful and effective in the market that they’re serving customers. Also, that AT&T has data  properly positioned for advertising monetization and  to gain “great insights on customers.”

“When you have a great 5G network, you’re deploying a lot of fiber, and that’s something that we think are married well,” Stankey said, as per this transcript. “And we think we’re in a very unique position because the fiber that we deploy not only powers our wireless business, but it helps our consumer business and fixed broadband. It helps our enterprise customers and how we deal with them as well, and so we strategically want to make sure we’re doing that.”

When asked if there was a business case for adding more fiber, Stankey answered in the affirmative. Stankey said AT&T’s confidence level for deploying more fiber is even higher now due to increased traffic on its network as a result of the  Covid-19 lockdowns.

“There is clearly an easy path for us to think about a substantially larger fiber footprint than what we have today with returns that are as good as the great returns we’ve gotten from the first tranche that we’ve built,” Stankey said.

“If you go in and look at the rest of our business on the core connectivity, we thought robust scale and connectivity networks were always going
to be important. And what we’ve seen is what was important in the urban areas is now distributed. And while we’ve had good infrastructure in
place in many areas, we have an opportunity to go do more. We have an opportunity to think about more varied forms of access that are more
flexible. And I think that, that plays right into our strength, and we’re looking at redoubling our efforts on those product development opportunities
that allow for true flexibility of bandwidth as somebody moves through a city center out to suburban areas. Our play in 5G, a more dense fiber
network all play really well into those thing.”

Stanky added that he was pleased with the investments the company has made in infrastructure and in its network over the last several years. Also, some of the new initiatives round FirstNet and focus on the development of 5G are really starting to to “bear fruit” in terms of AT&T’s  performance in the industry.

In closing, Goldman moderator John E. Waldron asked the AT&T CEO, “If we were to have this conversation 5 to 10 years from now, how do you think AT&T will have changed from the company you are today?”

Stankey talked up AT&T’s broadband services and entertainment products:

“If I were to think about 5 years out and what I’d like to be able to come and tell you is, to my point earlier, that we are focused in a set .of products; that we’re really proud of in the market that were — that customers love and think are really strong; that our broadband connectivity products (these are actually services, not products), whether you’re a business with a complicated distributed network or you’re at home, using one of our fixed broadband connections or a subscriber of our wireless service, you view them as being the best-in-class that are there; that our entertainment products are unique and that you can’t live without the stories that we’re telling; and that our employees who bring those products and services to our customers have a lot of pride in those, and they see them as being best-in-class and unique and special in the market. And that’s kind of universally held across our business. And as a result of that, employees want to come, not only continue to work here, we’re able to go out the market and recruit because people say, “Those are great products. It’s a great company that offers those things, and I feel compelled to want to go and participate in that.” So a high degree of employee loyalty around the products and services that we bring in that manifest itself in great employee engagement and great customer receptivity of those products. And 5 years from now that we’re known in that regard.”

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References:

https://event.webcasts.com/viewer/event.jsp?ei=1365838&tp_key=1587a26f6b

https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR/events-and-presentations/jts-at-goldman-transript-sept-15.pdf

Arthur D Little: 10 countries provide >= 95% FTTH coverage; Gigabit Fiber driving take-up of new apps and services

At least 10 countries worldwide now provide fiber to at least 95 percent of homes, according to the latest data from research firm Arthur D. Little (ADL) titledThe race to gigabit fiber.” 
The ADL report says that deployment of applications and services provisioned by underlying gigabit broadband is enabling people, machines, and applications to collaborate effectively and intelligently in order to enhance quality of life, improve our mobility, grow our economies and empower our decision-making.  For example, the PyeongChang Olympics 2018 and FIFA World Cup 2018 for the first time saw large scale availability of 4K live sports content broadcast in more than 30+ countries.

Gigabit broadband can be delivered using cable DOCSIS, fiber or other 5G-based technologies. This ADL report focuses on the rollout, take-up and services delivered with fiber -based gigabit broadband networks. ADL especially considers the developments made in fiber take-up and gigabit services enabled by fiber. See the previous edition of this study, “Race to gigabit fiber: Telecom incumbents pick up pace”4 for further details on which markets are taking the lead on fiber rollout and the deployment models used for it.

The report reveals that global fiber coverage in the benchmarked countries has soared from 39 percent in 2012 to 66 percent in 2020, including the 10-plus markets with almost ubiquitous fiber.  Here are a few report excerpts:
Non-telecom entities such as energy companies, railway operators and local municipalities are also entering the market, with large fiber rollout plans in fiber-lagging countries such as Italy, Germany and Austria, to bridge the gigabit broadband gap.
With 5G deployment models crystallizing, operators are also considering 5G-based technologies to complement high-cost,
last-mile fiber access, especially in rural areas.
While there were big improvements in fiber rollout from 2012 to 2017, take-up was still lagging behind, even though several markets invested large amounts of capex into nationwide fiber. However, we now see take-up rapidly improving, driven by both effective migration of legacy customers to fiber and competition driving demand for higher-speed broadband adoption at home.

As the fiber coverage and take-up rates continue to grow, incumbents are increasingly announcing plans to switch off and dismantle their legacy copper networks. Singtel in Singapore turned off its copper network in 2018 and migrated its copper and cable subscribers to fiber, allowing the incumbent Singtel and cable company StarHub to switch off their copper and cable networks. Another example is JT Global in Jersey, which already migrated its entire fixed broadband customer base to fiber and will switch off the copper infrastructure in 2020. Operators in at least three other countries plan to completely migrate their customer base to fiber in the next four to five years (see Figure 4 below).

However, before decommissioning their legacy networks, telcos will need to overcome regulatory and other obstacles, such as providing an alternative to existing regulatory wholesale products and replacing some copper-specific B2B use cases with other technologies. With legacy network switch off, incumbents hope to achieve cost efficiencies especially in network operations. In recent projects, we estimate that fiber networks have up to a 15x lower fault rate and use up to 85 percent less energy compared to legacy copper-based networks.

Fiber is undoubtedly an advanced fixed broadband technology that can efficiently deliver multi-gigabit speeds to a large volume of customers in real-life conditions, especially in dense urban areas. Offering 1 Gbps plans has become the norm in the leading Asian fiber markets such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, opening the way for multi-gigabit tariffs.

It has been more than five years since the first 10 Gbps plans were initially introduced in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Norway (see Figure 5. below). As of September 2020, we are not aware of any faster commercially available plan for the residential segment. Availability of multi-gigabit plans is still limited to a handful of markets and approximately 10-15 ISPs. However, just in the first half of 2020, there have been at least three ISPs that launched multi-gigabit offers: Zzoomm in the UK, Orange in France and Chorus in New Zealand.

 Incumbent operator led deployments continue to play the leading role in fiber deployment today. However, we believe the importance of open access fiber providers will gain in significance, especially in important markets such as Italy, Germany, UK and Saudi Arabia, among others. Large-scale investment by non-telco entities such as energy companies and infrastructure funds, among others, will continue to expand fiber coverage in these markets. (For further details on open access fiber developments, please refer to our other report on this topic.)

An increasing number of incumbents acknowledge the inevitability of switching off and dismantling their legacy copper networks as fiber coverage becomes ubiquitous, while the cost economics of maintaining a fiber network are far superior to maintaining a legacy fixed network. Initiatives for legacy network switch off have been announced in multiple markets, and we expect to see results in larger markets such as Spain, France or Sweden soon. We also see regulators opening up to the idea that fiber-based solutions can eventually replace regulated legacy network–based products, giving a further impetus to open access fiber rollout in some regions.

Gigabit tariffs have become commonplace in developed fiber markets (mostly in Asia) and are increasingly being offered to customers worldwide. However, multi-gigabit speeds are still available only in a handful of markets. Salt in Switzerland is an example of a provider that uses its aggressively priced multigigabit offer to differentiate and disrupt the fiber market and not only as a marketing tool. We expect that, with new fiber rollouts and increasing competition on the broadband markets, the number of multi-gigabit offerings will continue to grow.

Note:  This report, “The race to gigabit fiber,” is the 2020 update to Arthur D. Little’s Global FTTH study, published in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018.

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References:

Ciena and TELUS demo 800Gbps fiber optic transmission over 970km link from Toronto to Quebec City; Ciena Earnings & Guidance

Ciena claims to have achieved a worldwide transmission record of 800 Gbps with TELUS, over a record-breaking 971.2km distance.  Teams from both organizations worked together and turned up an 800G wavelength from Toronto to Quebec City.

 

TELUS+and+Ciena+800G+network+diagram

TELUS is one of the early 800 Gbps technology adopters who is in the process of augmenting their network with Ciena’s WaveLogic5 Extreme (WL5e). TELUS will be standardizing WaveLogic 5 Extreme for deployment in the near future. Part of the standardization activities include testing the full capabilities of the product to plan end user service offerings.

TELUS supports 15.3 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video and security.  The TELUS network extends 6,000 km from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Designed with the future in mind, TELUS’s next generation optical network consists of a state-of-the-art, colorless, directionless, contentionless, flexible grid (CDC-F) ROADM architecture with Layer 0 Control Plane, designed to support reliable, fast turn-up and re-route of unpredictable bandwidth demands across the network. Furthermore, it is ready to support new innovations in optical technologies as they become available, including the ability to carry optical channels of any spectrum size across the fiber.  This fully flexible, intelligent photonic infrastructure allows for the simple addition of WL5e wavelengths and with that, access to significant cost, footprint, and power benefits.

“TELUS prides itself on having one of the world’s fastest networks and using industry-leading technology to deliver the best experience for our customers across Canada. Our collaboration with Ciena on breaking transmission records is an exciting innovation that speaks to both teams track records of success,” said Ken Nowakowski, Director Planning and Engineering, Transport and IP Infrastructure Development and Operations at TELUS.

Testing continues at TELUS, with planned deployment of WL5e in the coming months.  Does this mean 800G will be deployed across long haul links? This is not a yes or no response, but 800G will be deployed where it makes sense in the TELUS network. As has always been the case, the line rate capacity that will be deployed depends on specific link characteristics, number of channels and desired reserved margin by the operator.

Ciena+6500+shelves+with+WaveLogic+5+Extreme+in+TELUS%E2%80%99s+Toronto+site+%28left%29+and+Quebec+City+%28right%29

Ciena 6500 shelves with WaveLogic 5 Extreme

The real news here is the resulting long-term benefits of the WL5e network upgrade for both TELUS and their end users. TELUS can continue to provide high quality, high speed connectivity to their end users – such as teleworker videoconferencing, multi-player interactive gaming, Internet access for low income families, and even live-streaming the Stanley Cup playoffs – while more efficiently using bandwidth resources and evolving to a greener network.

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Separately, Ciena announced earnings today.  For the fiscal third quarter ended Aug. 1, Ciena (ticker: CIEN) reported revenue of $876.7 million, up 1.7% from a year earlier, and ahead of the Wall Street analyst consensus at $971.8 million. Non-GAAP profit was $1.06 a share, nicely above the Street consensus at 83 cents.

“Operating conditions have complicated and extended the time required to deploy and activate new equipment and services with many of our large and long-standing international customers,” the company said in a presentation prepared for its earnings call with analysts on Thursday. “Conditions have made it more challenging to ramp up and operationalize some of our newer international deals and customer wins on their original timelines.”

Ciena also said “customer uncertainty around broader economic conditions is driving more cautious spending behaviors.” It said “longer term fundamental drivers—increasing network traffic, demand for bandwidth and adoption of cloud architectures—remain strong.”  Ciena CEO Gary Smith said Covid-19-related market dynamics were likely to adversely impact revenue “for a few quarters.”

Here are a few data points from the company’s earnings presentation:

  • Non-telco represented 43% of total revenue
  • Direct web-scale contributed 25% of total revenue
  • MSO’s contributed 9% of total revenue
  • Americas revenue up 9% YoY
  • TTM Adjusted R&D investment was $518M
  • 535 100G+ total customers, which includes 37 new wins on WaveLogic Ai and 27 new wins on WaveLogic 5e in Q3-2020
  • Shipped WL 5 Extreme to almost 40 customers, and the technology is live and carrying traffic in several networks

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Overview of Ciena’s Technology Portfolio:

PROGRAMMABLE INFRASTRUCTURE:

Converged Packet-Optical Networking: Software-defined platforms, featuring Ciena’s award-winning WaveLogic™ Photonics and agnostic packet/OTN switching, designed to maximize scale, flexibility and openness. Optimizes network performance from the access edge, along the backbone, and across ocean floors.

Packet Networking: Purpose-built platforms hosting a common Service-Aware Operating System that are the building blocks for low-touch, high-velocity Ethernet/MPLS/IP access to metro networks.

SOFTWARE CONTROL AND AUTOMATION:

Open software that includes Blue Planet® multi-domain orchestration, inventory, and route optimization to support the broadest range of closed-loop automation use cases across multi-layer, multi-vendor networks, as well as Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller for bringing software-defined programmability to next-gen Ciena networks.

ANALYTICS AND INTELLIGENCE:

Blue Planet Unified Assurance and Analytics: An open suite of software products that unifies multilayer, multi-domain assurance with AI-powered analytics to provide unprecedented insights that help transform and simplify business operations for network providers.

INNOVATION AND THE ADAPTIVE NETWORK:

▪ WaveLogic™ roadmap extends beyond 400G and with multiple form factors
▪ Adaptive IP™ capabilities for Packet Networking to address fiber densification (5G & Fiber Deep)
▪ Blue Planet® Intelligent Automation Portfolio and closed-loop automation capability strengthened with recent acquisition of Centina

References:

https://www.ciena.com/insights/articles/ciena-and-telus-bring-800g-to-canada-break-worldwide-transmission-record.html

https://s22.q4cdn.com/890175405/files/doc_financials/2020/Q3/Q320_Earnings_Presentation_Post-Call.pdf

Cignal AI: COVID-19 Continued to Pressure Optical Network Supply Chain in Q2-2020

Delayed order fulfillment due to COVID supply chain impact earlier this year was expected to spur sales growth in 2Q20, but instead the results were mixed, according to the most recent Transport Hardware Report from research firm Cignal AI. Forecasted growth in Q2 from sales pushed out from Q1 did not materialize, and network operators indicated that annual CapEx would not increase (see chart below). As a result, spending on optical and switching/routing equipment will be flat to down in the second half of the year.

“COVID operational issues slowed deliveries and revenue recognition in the second quarter, although optical hardware sales increased in NA and EMEA due to high demand for inventory,” stated Cignal AI Lead Analyst Scott Wilkinson. “Growth is not expected to continue in the second half as carriers have pulled forward annual CapEx spending and networks are now able to cope with COVID-related surges.”

Some regions did shine in 2Q20. North American optical sales were up sharply YoY in both metro and long haul WDM, though the second half of the year is expected to be flat or down. Japan’s extraordinary growth in optical sales expanded to packet sales this quarter, with sales to both market segments up substantially YoY.

Additional 2Q20 Transport Hardware Report Findings:

  • In addition to COVID woes, RoAPAC continues to suffer from the CapEx limitations in India, and optical sales declined -20% for the quarter while packet sales also declined.
  • China has overcome its COVID related issues and returned to optical and packet spending growth this quarter, with increasing growth forecasted for Q3.
  • EMEA optical spending increased YoY but was weighed down by weak Nokia sales. Nokia predicts that Q3 sales increases will offset Q2 declines.
Transport Hardware Dashboard Image

Real-Time Market Data:

Cignal AI’s Transport Hardware Dashboardis available to clients of the Transport Hardware Report and provides up-to-date market data, including individual vendors’ results as they are released. Users can manipulate variables online and see information in a variety of useful ways, as well as download Excel files with up-to-date snapshots of market reporting.

Contact:  sales@@cignal.ai

References:

https://cignal.ai/2020/08/transport-hardware-misses-expected-bounce-back-in-2q20/

Addendum:

According to Industry Research, the global Optical Transport Network (OTN) Equipment  (optical transport and switching) market is projected to reach USD 20360 million by 2026, from USD 15810 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 4.3% during 2021-2026.

The Optical Transport Network (OTN) Equipment market is segmented into the following categories:

  • Mobile Backhaul Solutions
  • Triple Play Solutions
  • Business Services Solution
  • Industry and Public Sector
  • Others

With respect to data rates, the Optical Transport Network (OTN) Equipment market is segmented into three categories:

  • < 10G
  • 10G-100G
  • 100-400G

https://www.industryresearch.co/global-optical-transport-network-otn-equipment-market-16157288

ETNO, GSMA: EU should adopt “fresh approach” to support fiber & 5G investments; GSMA says 5G SA coming soon?

The European telecom network operators industry group ETNO together with the GSMA have called on the EU to make support for fiber optics communications and 5G investments part of the bloc’s economic recovery plans. In a joint statement to mark the start of the German presidency of the EU, the associations said a fresh approach is needed to ensure the focus is on closing the digital divide and that plans to alleviate that should not become bogged down in regulatory discussions.

“We encourage all institutions to take stock of the socio-economic context and shift regulatory modes from ‘business-as-usual’ to a fresh and comprehensive approach aimed at unleashing the full power of network investment, at full scale and at full pace,” the statement said.

The joint communique then delineated ways policymakers can support the investment in improved connectivity for the EU:

  • Spectrum auctions are timely and conditions for spectrum assignment support network deployment. This includes taking a long-term view to spectrum prices, rather than imposing punitive fees that hamper 5G investment. Also, access and coverage obligations should not diminish the speed and scale of investment in network roll-out;
  • Sharing agreements for Radio Access Network (RAN) are supported and incentivised, so that they contribute to a speedy 5G deployment;
  • All fibre investment models are adequately incentivised at the national level, including co-investment and other forms of partnerships;
  • Innovative infrastructure solutions, such as cloud, edge and quantum computing, are given the appropriate support;
  • Future EU initiatives dramatically reduce roll-out costs for both mobile and fixed networks. This should tackle, for example, unreasonable costs for using public ground as well as complex authorization procedures for both fixed and mobile networks;
  • Open and interoperable interfaces in the RAN are supported. Initiatives such as Open RAN have the potential to support Europe’s multi-vendor approach, while reducing deployment costs, further strengthening the security of the equipment and unleash more network innovation.

The most important thing is helping grow adoption of the new technologies by citizens and businesses, the statement said. This includes supporting digital skills education and training. “Finally, workers of all ages should be put in the condition to develop the necessary digital skills – both through upskilling and reskilling – to thrive in innovative and fast-paced markets.”

Demand stimulus measures can also help bring digital services to public sector organizations like schools, hospitals and local administrations. That would not only support Europe’s economic recovery, but also can contribute to the EU’s climate goals.

The GSMA and ETNO also called on the EU governments to combat the attacks against telecom infrastructure and misinformation surrounding 5G. To date they have counted over 180 arson attacks against mobile antennas in 11 countries.

Media Inquiries:

Alessandro Gropelli, ETNO – gropelli@etno.eu 0032 476 9418 39

Noelle Knox, GSMA Europe – NKnox@gsma.com 0032 470 45 2941

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Separately, GSMA says “5G Stand Alone to Become Reality“:

“The deployment of fully virtualized networks using 5G Stand Alone Cores, thereby facilitating Edge Computing and Network Slicing, will enable enterprises and governments to reap the many benefits from high throughput, ultra-low latency and IoT to improve productivity and enhance services to their customers,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA.

“5G Stand Alone Option 2 can meet various and more stringent requirements and provide optimal and differentiated solutions, thereby empowering more businesses and unlocking the potential of many services. 5G is changing our society and life,” said Liu Guiqing, Executive Vice President of China Telecom.

“NTT DOCOMO has been actively promoting virtualisation of our core network; we believe that this virtualisation technology is already mature and that our operational know-how will be our advantage. In the future we expect to build dedicated networks, optimised for consumer use cases, such as AR /VR and gaming,” said Hiroyuki Oto, General Manager of Core Network Development Department, NTT DOCOMO, Inc.

The latest version of the 5G SA guidelines ‘5G Implementation Guidelines: SA Option 2 will be released 30th June at 17:00 Beijing time during Thrive China, a new virtual event from the GSMA.

NOTE that those GSMA guidelines come before 3GPP Release 16 5G Architecture (including 5G Core) spec 23.501 is finalized/frozen at 3GPP’s July 2020 meeting.  It seems there will be many versions of 5G core networks:

Alex Quach, VP of Intel’s Data Platforms Group: “The way different service providers implement their 5G core is going to vary. Every service provider has unique circumstances. The transition to a new 5G core is going to be different for every operator.”

Asked if SK Telecom has now completed its 5G Standalone core network, the South Korean carrier was vague in an email reply to FierceWireless. “To commercialize standalone 5G service in Korea, we are currently making diverse R&D efforts including conducting tests in both lab and commercial environment. Our latest achievements include the world’s first standalone (SA) 5G data session on our multi-vendor commercial 5G network.

fiercewireless.com/operators/sk-t

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GSMA also states that:

Mobile connections, including cellular IoT as of 1 July 2020 =8,805,024,140   (not the 20B Ericsson and others predicted for 2020)


GROWTH, YEAR ON YEAR= 6.20%
GROWTH, LAST 3 YEARS
GSMA Logo

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References:

https://etno.eu/news/all-news/8-news/678-joint-statement-telecoms-eu-recovery.html

https://etno.eu/news/all-news.html

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/etno-gsma-call-for-eu-support-for-fibre-5g-investment-to-drive-economic-recovery–1345051

5G Stand Alone to Become Reality