Vodafone evaluating wind-powered mobile masts for remote area connectivity

UK based network operator Vodafone is examining one solution for connecting remote areas which use mobile masts that power themselves.  Vodafone has been working with a company called Crossflow Energy, which has a very interesting clean technology called Transverse Axis Wind Turbines. The turbines look more like something you’d find on a paddle steamer, but they’re apparently more efficient and reliable than regular ones. Vodafone’s plan is to use them, in combination with solar and battery technologies to make self-powering masts.

Vodafone has developed self-powered cell towers and aims to deploy them across the UK. This is the latest part of its plan to expand its reach and offer new services while reducing energy consumption in its future networks, supporting its target of achieving net-zero for UK operations by 2027.

In April 2021, Vodafone and Ericsson began a trial using drones and Lidar-based 3D technology. With drones collecting high-definition imagery and Lidar technology collecting data to help build 3D digital twin models, only specialist operators would need to travel to sites for surveys.And in September, Vodafone announced it was using a “breakthrough” energy solution from Ericsson for 5G network equipment to reduce forecast energy consumption in its future network. The new 5G radio unit is said to be 43% more energy-efficient than its legacy equivalent.Over the past two years, the operator has been working with renewable energy technology specialist Crossflow Energy to develop what is said to be the latter’s unique and innovative wind turbine technology, combined with new solar and battery technologies, to create a self-powered mobile network tower. Vodafone, alongside network partner Cornerstone, will now run a proof of concept to install Crossflow Turbine technology on rural mobile sites.

Vodafone regards the adoption of technologies such as the self-powered site as essential to meeting its energy-saving ambitions. As well as reducing Vodafone’s energy consumption, self-powered sites remove the need to connect to the electricity grid, overcoming what the operator says can be an insurmountable civil engineering challenge when building new sites in the most rural parts of the UK.

Other potential benefits of the Eco-Towers cited by Vodafone include: the use of locally generated renewable power to reduce the environmental impact of the site; increased renewable contribution by combining wind and solar with battery storage systems on site, which could remove reliance on diesel generators for back-up power; the quiet, bird-friendly turbine could make the Eco-Tower viable for the most sensitive of sites, including areas of outstanding natural beauty; and on-site power generation that is independent from the electricity grid may improve security of supply.

“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK. “Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry.

“Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net-zero for our UK operations by 2027.”

Martin Barnes, CEO at Crossflow Energy, added: “We are really excited to be working with Vodafone. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show how our self-powered Eco-Tower solves the problem of harnessing ‘small wind’ to offer not just that all-important carbon reduction, but also significant commercial benefits.

“In the case of Vodafone, it will help to accelerate the expansion of rural connectivity, transform energy consumption patterns and deliver significant economic and carbon savings. Our turbine technology has equally strong applications for so many other industries, but to have such a high-profile player as Vodafone deploying our Eco-Tower is a major endorsement for us and our technology.”

This project  seems be in the proof of concept stage right now, with the first such masts set to be deployed by the end of this year. They will face the same challenges as all other uses of renewable energy – principally what do to on rainy or cloudy days. Vodafone evidently believes that the low level of usage expected of these remote masts will mean their batteries never get totally drained. They will soon find out for sure, one way or the other.

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252510074/Vodafone-announces-trial-of-self-powered-mobile-masts

https://telecoms.com/512340/vodafone-looks-into-wind-powered-mobile-masts/

https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/news/vodafone-develops-wind-powered-cell-masts-rolling-them-out-across-uk/

https://www.capacitymedia.com/articles/3830223/vodafone-to-launch-self-powered-mobile-towers

Vodafone and ITU establish new working group to close digital divide

Vodafone and the ITU have launched a major new initiative to address the global digital divide. The program aims to give an additional 3.4 billion worldwide the ability to access and use the internet through a smartphone by 2030, Vodafone announced.

The new working group, co-chaired by Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read and ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, will identify policy, commercial and circular economy actions to increase smartphone access. Launch partners for the initiative include the GSMA, Vodacom Group, Safaricom, Smart Africa, the government of Ghana, the World Wide Web Foundation, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet.

In a statement announcing the initiative, Vodafone cited GSMA Connected Society research showing 82 per cent of the citizens of low- and middle-income countries are now covered by 4G mobile networks, but many lack a capable device.

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, said: “Vodafone is honored to be part of this monumental global initiative with the UN, to improve the lives of billions of people through smartphone access. As our societies become more digital, everyone should have the ability to find jobs, be able to get public services, financial services and critical information that are increasingly only available through the internet. This is such a complex challenge that no network operator, device manufacturer, financial services provider or national government can solve on their own – but working together we can break through the barriers.”

Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the ITU, said: “Achieving the Broadband Commission Global Targets requires a multi-stakeholder approach. I am pleased to co-chair this newly established Working Group, which will also help address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that we put smart devices in the hands of those who are left behind.”

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalization, stated 45 per cent of people in West Africa are covered by mobile broadband networks but do not use the internet.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, officer-in-charge of the office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, explained the Vodafone and ITU working group will play a key role in helping the body achieve its goal of universal connectivity by 2030 by helping ensure the global shift to digital technology “is beneficial and makes our societies more equal and not less.”

The Broadband Commission Working Group will produce a report and set of recommendations including:

  • original analysis and data on the smartphone access gap;

  • quantification of the social and economic impact of providing everyone with smartphone access by 2030, including assessment of moving users from 2G feature phones to 4G smartphones; and

  • analysis of initiatives or pilots designed to increase smartphone access. Vodafone Group has committed to launch two pilot projects on device affordability as part of this process.

“This partnership is key to expand access to the internet,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “I am confident that the outcome report will provide guidance to all our stakeholders as we prepare for the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2022 to build a world where no one is left off-line.”

To coincide with the creation of this new ITU working group, Vodafone, Safaricom and Vodacom have published the second Africa.Connected report in accelerating 4G roll-out in sub-Saharan Africa. The report, prepared by consultancy Caribou Digital, outlines four key steps to boosting digital access across African. This includes making 4G devices more accessible; investing in the demand for 4G services; providing targeted financing for underserved demographics; and re-farming 2G spectrum to enable more people to use 4G services.

References:

https://www.vodafone.com/news/press-release/broadband-commission-vodafone-urge-action-connect-people-smartphones

https://www.mobileworldlive.com/featured-content/top-three/vodafone-itu-target-digital-divide-closure

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/vodafone-itu-create-new-working-group-to-tackle-global-digital-divide–1397673

https://www.vodafone.com/sites/default/files/2021-09/Vodafone_Africa_Access_Paper.pdf

 

2Africa subsea cable system adds 4 new branches

The 2Africa consortium of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC has announced the addition of four new branches to their subsea cable.  That will extend 2Africa’s connectivity to the Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing in south-east Nigeria.  The new cable branches join the recently announced extension to the Canary Islands.

2Africa, which will be the largest subsea cable project in the world, will deliver faster, more reliable internet service to each country where it lands. Communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and business will experience the economic and social benefits that come from this increased connectivity.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to deploy the new branches, which will increase the number of 2Africa landings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivity into and around Africa. As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available to service providers at carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.

Marine surveys completed for most of the cable and cable manufacturing is underway.  Since launching the 2Africa cable in May 2020, the 2Africa consortium has made considerable progress in planning and preparing for the deployment of the cable, which is expected to ‘go live’ late 2023.  Most of the subsea route survey activity is now complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeater units in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deploy the first segments in 2022.

Egypt terrestrial crossing already completed

One of 2Africa’s key segments, the Egypt terrestrial crossing that interconnects landing sites on the Red and the Mediterranean Seas via two completely diverse terrestrial routes, has been completed ahead of schedule. A third diverse marine path will complement this segment via the Red Sea.

About MTN GlobalConnect
GlobalConnect is a Pan-African digital wholesale and infrastructure services company, and an operating company in the MTN Group. GlobalConnect manages MTN’s international and national major wholesale activities, in addition to offering reliable wholesale and infrastructure solutions for fixed connectivity and wholesale mobility solutions that include international mobile services, Voice, SMS, signalling, roaming and interconnect. The MTN Group launched in 1994 is a leading emerging market operator with a clear vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world and is inspired by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. Embracing the Ambition 2025 strategy, MTN is anchored on building the largest and most valuable platform business, with a clear focus on Africa. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code “MTN”.

For more information, please visit www.globalconnect.solutions – https://www.mtn.com

About stc
With its headquarter in Riyadh, stc group is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa based on market cap. stc’s revenue for 2020 amounted to 58,953million SAR (15,721 million US dollars) and the net profit amounted to 10,995 million SAR (2,932 million US dollars). stc was established in 1998 and currently has customers around the globe. It is ranking among the world’s top 50 digital companies and the first in the Middle East and North Africa according to Forbes. It focuses on providing services to enterprise and consumer customers through a fiber-optic network that spans 217,000 kilometers. stc group was among the first in MENA region to launch 5G networks and was considered one of the fastest globally in deploying 5G network as stc already deployed around 4,000 5G towers as end of 2020. stc group has 14 subsidiaries in the Kingdom, gulf and around the world, and its own 100% of stc Bahrain, 51.8% stake in stc Kuwait and 25% stake in Binariang GSM Holding in Malaysia which owns 62% of Maxis in Malaysia.
In Saudi Arabia (the group’s main operation site) stc operates the largest modern mobile network in the Middle East as it covers more than 99% of the country’s populated areas in addition to providing 4G mobile broadband to about 90% of the population across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to the above-mentioned, stc is a strong regional player in IoT, managed services, system integration, cloud computing, information security, big data Analytics fintech and artificial intelligence.

For more information, please visit https://www.stc.com.sa; or to follow us on Twitter: @stc , @stc_ksa

About Telecom Egypt
Telecom Egypt is the first total telecom operator in Egypt providing all telecom services to its customers including fixed and mobile voice and data services. Telecom Egypt has a long history serving Egyptian customers for over 160 years maintaining a leadership position in the Egyptian telecom market by offering its enterprise and consumer customers the most advanced technology, reliable infrastructure solutions and the widest network of submarine cables.  Aside from its mobile operation “WE”, the company owns a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt. Telecom Egypt’s shares and GDRs (Ticker: ETEL.CA; TEEG.LN) are traded on The Egyptian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Please refer to Telecom Egypt’s full financial disclosure on ir.te.eg

For more information, email: investor.relations@te.eg

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References:

https://www.orange.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021/new-branches-2africa-subsea-cable-system

 

Nokia and Vodafone to use machine learning on Google Cloud to detect network anomalies

Nokia and Vodafone have partnered to jointly develop a new machine learning (ML) system designed to detect and remediate network anomalies before they impact customers. Based on Nokia’s Bell Labs algorithm, the Anomaly Detection Service product runs on Google Cloud and is already being rolled out across Vodafone’s pan-European network.

In a joint statement, the partners said the ML system quickly detects and troubleshoots irregularities, such as mobile site congestion and interference, as well as unexpected latency, that may have an impact on customer service quality. Following an initial deployment in Italy on more than 60,000 LTE cells, Vodafone said it will be extending the service to all its European markets by early 2022, and there are plans to eventually apply it on the company’s 5G and core networks.

Vodafone added that it expects that around 80 percent of all its anomalous mobile network issues and capacity demands to be automatically detected and addressed using Anomaly Detection Service.

Vodafone’s deal with Nokia signed last year complements its recent six-year agreement with Google Cloud to jointly build integrated cloud-based capabilities backed by hubs of networking and software engineering expertise.

The platform, called ’Nucleus’, will house a new system ‘Dynamo’, which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo is expected to help Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of new features such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50 TB of data per day, Nucleus and Dynamo are considered “industry firsts”. Being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams, the project involves up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK and the US.

Vodafone said it has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across its markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone, said: “We are building an automated and programmable network that can respond quickly to our customers’ needs. As we extend 5G across Europe, it is important to match the speed and responsiveness of this new technology with a great service. With machine learning, we can ensure a consistently high-quality performance that is as smart as the technology behind it.”

Amol Phadke, Managing Director, Telecom Industry Solutions, Google Cloud, said:
“We are thrilled to partner with Nokia and Vodafone to deliver a data- and AI-driven solution that scales quickly and leverages automation to increase cost efficiency and ensures seamless customer experiences across Europe. As behaviors change and the data needed for analysis increases in velocity, volume, and complexity, automation and a cloud-based data platform are now key in making fast and informed decisions.”

Anil Rao, Research Director, Analysys Mason, said: “Vodafone’s anomaly detection use case, developed in partnership with Nokia and run on Google Cloud, automates root-cause analysis for efficient network planning, optimization, and operations. This type of partnership provides a new opportunity for operators to rethink data management and increase the focus on use cases and application development.”

Raghav Sahgal, President of Cloud and Network Services, Nokia, said: “This first commercial deployment of Anomaly Detection Service with Vodafone on Google Cloud provides a great boost to customer service. It not only addresses the critical need to quickly detect and remedy anomalies impacting network performance using machine learning-based algorithms, but it also highlights Nokia’s technology leadership and the deep technical expertise of Nokia Bell Labs.”

Vodafone said it will convert its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

References:

Vodafone and Google Cloud to Develop Integrated Data Platform

Vodafone and Google Cloud today announced a new, six-year strategic partnership to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics, insights, and learnings to support the introduction of new digital products and services for Vodafone customers simultaneously worldwide.

In a significant expansion of their existing agreement, Vodafone and Google Cloud will jointly build a powerful new integrated data platform with the added capability of processing and moving huge volumes of data globally from multiple systems into the cloud.

The platform, called ‘Nucleus‘, will house a new system – ‘Dynamo‘ – which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo will allow Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of smart network features, such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50 terabytes of data per day, equivalent to 25,000 hours of HD film (and growing), both Nucleus and Dynamo, which are industry firsts, are being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams. Up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK, and the United States are collaborating on the project.

Vodafone has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across Vodafone’s markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.  The speed and ease with which Vodafone’s operating companies in multiple countries can access its data analytics, intelligence, and machine-learning capabilities will also be vastly improved.

By generating more detailed insight and data-driven analysis across the organization and with its partners, Vodafone customers around the world can have a better and more enriched experience. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Enhancing Vodafone’s mobile, fixed, and TV content and connectivity services through the instantaneous availability of highly personalized rewards, content, and applications. For example, a consumer might receive a sudden broadband speed boost based on personalized individual needs.
  • Increasing the number of smart network services in its Google Cloud footprint from eight markets to the entire Vodafone footprint. This allows Vodafone to precisely match network roll-out to consumer demand, increase capacity at critical times, and use machine learning to predict, detect, and fix issues before customers are aware of them.
  • Empowering data scientists to collaborate on key environmental and health issues in 11 countries using automated machine learning tools. Vodafone is already assisting governments and aid organisations, upon their request, with secure, anonymised, and aggregated movement data to tackle COVID-19. This partnership will further improve Vodafone’s ability to provide deeper insights, in accordance with local laws and regulations, into the spread of disease through intelligent analytics across a wider geographical area.
  • Providing a complete digital replica of many of Vodafone’s internal support functions using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Called a digital twin, it enables analytic models on Google Cloud to improve response times to enquiries and predict future demand. The system will also support a digital twin of Vodafone’s vast digital infrastructure worldwide.
  • In addition, Vodafone will re-platform its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer for Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is building a powerful foundation for a digital future. We have vast amounts of data which, when securely processed and made available across our footprint using the collective power of Vodafone and Google Cloud’s engineering expertise, will transform our services, to our customers and governments, and the societies where they live and serve.”

Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud, commented: “Telecommunications firms are increasingly differentiating their customer experiences through the use of data and analytics, and this has never been more important than during the current pandemic. We are thrilled to be selected as Vodafone’s global strategic cloud partner for analytics and SAP, and to co-innovate on new products that will accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.”

Revenues at Google’s Cloud business grew 46% this past quarter.  However, Google continues to be a distant third to Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud business.

Technical Notes:

All data generated by Vodafone in the markets in which it operates is stored and processed in the required Google Cloud facilities as per local jurisdiction requirements and in accordance with local laws and regulations. Customer permissions and Vodafone’s own rigorous security and privacy by design processes also apply.

On the back of their collaborative work, Vodafone and Google Cloud will also explore opportunities to provide consultancy services, offered either jointly or independently, to other multi-national organizations and businesses.

The platform is being built using the latest hybrid cloud technologies from Google Cloud to facilitate the rapid standardization and movement of data in both Vodafone’s physical data centers and onto Google Cloud. Dynamo will direct all of Vodafone’s worldwide data, extracting, encrypting, and anonymizing the data from source to cloud and back again, enabling intelligent data analysis and generating efficiencies and insight.

References:

https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vodafone-and-google-cloud-to-develop-industry-first-global-data-platform-301281936.html

https://cloud.google.com/press-releases/2021/0503/vodafone-google-cloud (video)

 

Equinix and Vodafone to Build Digital Subsea Cable Hub in Genoa, Italy

Equinix and Vodafone have announced plans to build a new subsea cable hub in the northern Italian port of Genoa, to be called GN1.

Under the deal, Vodafone will land the 2Africa cable system at Genoa and use Equinix’s GN1 facility as a strategic interconnection point for the subsea cable system, with a connection on to Milan and the rest of Europe.

 

The partners said the EUR 1 billion 2Africa cable will be ready for service in 2023, a 37,000 km system circumnavigating the continent of Africa and directly connecting 16 countries in Africa to Europe and the Middle East, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key segments. To facilitate interconnection, GN1 will have a direct fiber connection to ML5, the soon-to-be opened Equinix flagship data center in Milan.

Equinix Fabric

The newly-announced GN1 hub will be Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data center, offering customers secure colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to directly tap into Equinix’s digital ecosystems and colocation facilities in Milan. It will provide a capacity of 150 cabinet equivalents, and colocation space of around 560 square meters.

The combination of 2Africa’s landing in the new Genoa site and the direct connection to Milan means GN1 will offer a new, complementary and diverse alternative option for the Mediterranean region. As Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data center, GN1 will offer customers secure, resilient colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to directly leverage Equinix’s digital ecosystems and colocation facilities in Milan. It will provide a capacity of 150 cabinet equivalents, and colocation space of approximately 6,000 square feet (560 square meters).

2Africa is expected to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key segments of the system. This will be vital to help build a digital society ready for services that require a large amount of data transfer, such as cloud computing or video.

The need for robust digital infrastructures can be seen across the world, and Africa is no exception. The continent is experiencing a critical period of digital transformation and development of its digital economy. In the next few years, digital technologies are expected to be a factor in improving African people’s quality of life and driving economic development in the region.

The GSMA predicts that the number of mobile internet users in Africa will continue to grow rapidly, primarily due to the popularization of smartphones and lack of fixed-line infrastructure, which has led to a boom of new services such as mobile payment, instant messaging, online streaming media and short video.

Highlights/Key Facts:

  • The 2Africa project includes partners from China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC. The cable system will underpin digitization across the African continent by bringing greater capacity, quality and availability of internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.
  • Responsibility for landing the 2Africa cable is split between the 2Africa parties depending on location. Vodafone is leading all European landings, along with selected other sites.
  • As the home of the interconnected cloud®, Equinix is a natural destination for subsea cable systems and a gateway to new opportunities for system operators and their customers. Equinix hosts over 2,950 cloud and IT service providers on its global platform and can support subsea cable systems in 40 subsea-enabled metros around the world. When subsea cable systems are linked to cloud and content ecosystems on Platform Equinix®, users can access a variety of scalable cloud services almost anywhere they need to be. And because Equinix is carrier-neutral, subsea system operators can offer excess network capacity to customers who otherwise couldn’t as quickly or efficiently reach the markets being served by new subsea architectures.
  • GN1 is being built in line with global environmental standards and will contribute to a portfolio of some of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world. Indeed, GN1 is expected to utilize 100% renewable energy. As the world’s digital infrastructure company, Equinix is working to protect, connect and power a more sustainable digital world by proactively addressing its ESG impacts. Equinix recently scored the highest rating on its first response to the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability survey, and joined European cloud infrastructure and data center providers and European trade associations to form the Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Initiative.
  • ML5 will be a new flagship International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Milan that offers state-of-the-art colocation, as well as a host of advanced interconnection services—including Equinix Fabric™ and Equinix Internet Exchange®—enabling virtual interconnections to some of the largest cloud providers in the world, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Google Cloud. When opened, ML5 will provide capacity of 500 cabinet equivalents and colocation space of approximately 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters).
  • The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 4, a market study recently published by Equinix, forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth—the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organizations—will achieve a 45% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023, globally. The expected growth is driven by digital transformation, and specifically by greater demands from enterprises extending their digital infrastructure from centralized locations to distributed edge locations.

Quotes:

  • Nick Gliddon, Director, Vodafone Carrier Services:
    “The 2Africa project is vitally important to improving connectivity between EuropeAfrica and the Middle East, and will also improve intra-European connectivity. By linking Spain and Portugal directly to Genoa and Milan, the system will avoid fiber bottlenecks that naturally occur between France and Spain, further strengthening Vodafone’s Gigabit networks.”

  • Emmanuel Becker, Managing Director, Italy, Equinix:
    Italy is an important growth market for Equinix in EMEA, as it’s a strategic interconnection point for the region and beyond. We are working to give our customers improved access to the expanding global subsea cable network, so they have increased opportunities to expand internationally. Thanks also to the opening of our new data center in Milan, ML5, we are creating an interconnected metro area where customers can connect with strategic business partners in Italy and across the world.”

  • Eugene Bergen Henegouwen, President, EMEA, Equinix:
    “I am thrilled we are adding a new metro to our EMEA portfolio. Equinix’s Genoa site provides a great landing hub for subsea cable operators, whilst at the same time boosting the digital ecosystems at our recently announced Milan flagship, ML5. Equinix continues to focus on expanding its position as a global connectivity service provider. Our commitment is always to support the increasing demands we’re seeing from companies globally to accelerate their digital transformation. We’re helping businesses connect to everything they need to succeed, and will continue to do so.”

  • Marco Bucci, Mayor of Genoa City:
    “We are very excited to be the host city for the new subsea hub GN1, that will serve as a landing point for the 2Africa cable in the north of ItalyGenoa is known for the central role it has played in maritime trade for many centuries. Thanks to GN1, the city will become one of the main digital harbors of Europe, and play a key role in global data transfer.”

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/equinix-and-vodafone-collaborate-to-build-digital-hub-in-genoa-connecting-africa-europe-and-the-middle-east-301234324.html

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/equinix-and-vodafone-announce-genoa-hub-for-subsea-cables–1373724

https://blog.equinix.com/blog/2021/01/15/equinix-submarine-cable-momentum-is-accelerating/

Vodafone says Open RAN ready for prime time as Huawei is phased out in the UK

Vodafone has made a major commitment to use Open RAN at about 2,600 mobile base stations currently served by Huawei. That’s about 35% of the Chinese telecom equipment vendor’s installed base within Vodafone’s network, according to a spokesperson for the UK service provider after it was reported by the Financial Times (subscription required).

Approximately 2,600 sites in rural Wales and the south west of England will be switched to OpenRAN by the government-imposed deadline, a process that will commence in 2022. Vodafone wants to be viewed as a trailblazer for OpenRAN, which increasingly looks like the most likely source of telecoms vendor diversity in the wake of Huawei’s blacklisting by the U.S., UK and other countries.

“This commitment can get Open RAN ready for prime time,” Scott Petty, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, told the Financial Times. He added that although open RAN was still a nascent technology more suited to rural coverage than dense urban areas, including such a large chunk of its network would create an opportunity for it to push into the mainstream. Spanish telecom operator Telefónica is also exploring greater use of open RAN systems for future upgrades.

Vodafone’s plan represents a boost for the UK government, after a task force launched to help strip Huawei equipment out of the country’s 5G networks by 2027 identified open RAN as a potential growth opportunity for the UK. It could also support a government ambition to rebuild a foothold in the telecoms equipment market if growing Open RAN use is used to justify research and development subsidies and companies in the field based themselves in Britain.

“The UK could regain a foothold which it hasn’t had since the break-up of Marconi,” said Mr Petty, referring to the collapsed British telco. Recommended Huawei Technologies Huawei develops plan for chip plant to help beat US sanctions US companies Mavenir, Parallel Wireless and Altiostar have emerged as open RAN specialists in recent years, hoping to compete with larger companies, while hardware vendors like Samsung, NEC and Fujitsu are hoping to win market share as Huawei kit is removed. The move to ban Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, from 5G networks has meant networks have turned to Ericsson and Nokia to fill the void.

BT has signed deals with both the Ericsson and Nokia to replace Huawei base stations over time, putting the cost of complying with the government phase out at £500m. Ian Livingston, the former BT chief executive and trade minister heading up the government’s telecoms task force, told MPs last week that the push to foster Open RAN would grant telecoms companies a greater choice of vendors in the wake of the Huawei ban and avoid a bottleneck in the supply chain. Using Open RAN is a more costly exercise which has led to some calls within the industry for more financial support. Mr Petty said this need not be in the form of direct subsidies to use the equipment but could be directed at speeding up the development of chips and software to compete with established companies such as Huawei.

Vodafone’s pledge to use emerging open RAN tech for at least 2,600 masts and rooftops is the largest confirmed promise made by a European carrier © Alamy Stock Photo

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Analysis & Opinion:

Vodafone is likely interested in Open RAN because that could boost supplier diversity in a market where there are currently few viable alternatives to the giant kit vendors. Trials in various geographies have already been carried out with Mavenir and Parallel Wireless, two U.S. developers of Open RAN software.  Many telecom operators have complained that today’s systems force them to rely on one company for all the RAN technologies at a particular site. Thanks to other “virtualization” schemes, they would be able to run open RAN software on commoditized, general-purpose equipment.

Vodafone hasn’t named any of the vendors that will help it with this initiative. Telecoms.com was told that it’s committing a fair bit to OpenRAN R&D and that it definitely sees a significant role for the technology across its entire radio estate. It seems the UK government has actually been of some help in this matter too, with the creation of a taskforce charged with improving vendor diversity considered a step in the right direction.

Vodafone seems to be trying to set the agenda when it comes to emerging technology trends. For years it promoted NB-IoT, but it’s been silent on that LPWAN (for IoT) lately. OpenRAN suffers from the classic paradox of new technologies in that companies are reluctant to invest much in being first movers.  Vodafone is putting its money where its mouth is regarding OpenRAN and it will be watched closely by other operators looking for reassurance before deploying this untested technology.

Vodafone is under pressure to comply with a government deadline for the removal of all Huawei’s 5G products by the end of 2027. This would be fairly straightforward with mainstream technologies from Ericsson and Nokia. Using open RAN as a substitute, even across only 35% of these sites in rural areas, may be tough.

The payoff for Open RAN is a much larger choice of telecom equipment and software vendors. That might even include UK firms, which have not featured in the network equipment sector since the days of Marconi, eventually bought by Ericsson in 2006. Lime Microsystems, based in the UK town of Guildford, is one player that might benefit. It is already supplying 4G equipment to a Vodafone site in Wales that was supposed to be used during this year’s Royal Welsh Show, an agricultural event canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s Rakuten Mobile and U.S. based Dish Network have already made significant open RAN commitments. Yet both of those companies are building their networks from scratch as greenfield wireless carriers. With today’s update, Vodafone is taking a bigger step into the unknown than any other brownfield telco in a developed market has taken, including Telefonica.

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References:

https://www.ft.com/content/a872a299-2f49-45b3-b3ff-9200f6ce8247

https://www.lightreading.com/vodafone-uk-to-swap-big-part-of-huawei-for-open-ran/d/d-id/765104?

Vodafone UK bets the farm on OpenRAN

 

Telefónica switches on 5G; 75% of Spain to be covered this year

Telefónica has launched commercial 5G services throughout Spain, pledging to reach 75 percent of the Spanish population by the end of the year. In a statement, the company’s executive chairman Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete described the deployment as the most ambitious in the European Union. “The launch of 5G is a leap forward towards the hyperconnectivity that will change the future of Spain,” he said, noting that “it’s 5G for everyone, without any exceptions, in all the autonomous communities.”  [That assumes low enough 5G tariffs, such that poorer working class Spaniards can afford the service].   Telefonica is accelerating “the digitalisation of small and medium companies, public administrations and citizens, ”Alvarez-Pallete added.

“Our network has always been a differential asset. People’s lives pass through it and it has demonstrated unparalleled strength when it’s been most needed”, Álvarez-Pallete continued.  He pointed out that Spain already leads Europe’s digital infrastructures with the largest fiber optic network.

Editor’s Note: Telefonica’s 5G announcement follows Vodafone – Spain‘s commercial 5G network deployment in 21 cities in Spain. Initial 5G speeds of up to 1 Gbps for Vodafone subscribers in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander. Speeds will rise to 2 Gbps by the end of the year, some 10 times the current 4G maximum, with latency reduced to less than 5 milliseconds in ideal conditions.

Orange and Masmovil set to launch their 5G networks in Spain this month. All four of Spain’s MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) are expected to bid for frequencies in the 700 MHz band when the government holds its delayed spectrum auction in the first quarter of 2021.

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Telecom Review - Telefónica Deutschland and Huawei launch 5G-oriented  antenna solution

Telefonica said 5G technology will give residential customers access to far faster speeds and lower latency, allowing sports fans to enjoy live 360-degree broadcasts and mobile gamers to access a “fibre-like” experience. Businesses will have access to services such as Multi-Access Edge Computing, 5G private networks, mass IoT and critical communications, as well as network virtualisation to facilitate more effective use of the network’s resources.

The Spain based network operator (also active in Latin America) clarified that it will initially launch NSA (non-standalone) 5G combined with DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) ahead of the “immediate deployment” of 5G SA (standalone) when the technology becomes fully available after standardisation. The company said it will make use of its current sites and infrastructure for the initial rollout, to be complemented by new base stations and small cells according to capacity and coverage needs.

It’s also having to rely on the 3.5 GHz band, together with mid-band (1800-2100 MHz) frequencies, for the initial coverage thanks to equipment that can operate with 4G and 5G at the same time. Telefonica also announced that it intends to shut down its 3G network in 2025, when 100 percent of its copper network will have been replaced by fiber optics.

“With 5G everything happens in a millisecond. A millisecond is what makes remote surgery, autonomous cars, the smart management of energy resources and cities and highly advanced entertainment possible. A millisecond is much more than a new response time. It’s Telefónica’s response to the new times. It’s Telefónica’s commitment to the country’s future”, concluded Álvarez-Pallete.

For residential customers, in addition to the benefits brought by 5G in terms of greater speed and lower latency, which will allow them, for example, to download a film in seconds, 5G will provide the possibility, among other features, of enjoying live sports broadcasts during which users will obtain a 360º experience and be able to view any angle of the match as if they were on the pitch itself. Gaming enthusiasts will obtain a mobility experience similar to that provided by fibre in the home, in other words, without any interruptions or latency. 5G will thus enable them to play on their mobile phones as if they were on their home computer screens or their video consoles.

5G business customers will have access to services like Multi-Access Edge Computing, which offers ultra-low latency services and greater computing capacity “on the network edge”, in addition to services such as 5G private networks, mass IoT and critical communications, as well as network virtualisation to facilitate more effective use of the network’s resources in keeping with the customers’ needs.

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Telefonica taps Huawei for 5G core, as DT freezes 5G deals amid uncertainty  | FierceWireless

Telefónica operates with the latest radio (base station) generations that allow dual 4G and 5G usage, with the aim of bringing 5G to the largest number of people from the outset. This first phase will witness the launch of the 5G network, thanks to a technology that combines the deployment of NSA (non-standalone) 5G and DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) and the subsequent immediate deployment of the SA (standalone) 5G network when the technology becomes fully available after standardisation. This initial deployment will also make use of the current sites and infrastructure and, in the mid and long terms, it will be complemented by new base stations and small cells as the capacity and coverage require.

The 3.5 GHz band frequency (the only 5G band frequency already licensed to operators) and the mid-band (1800-2100 MHz) frequencies are being used for this purpose. This is the current location of 4G, capitalising on the possibility of using NR (New Radio) equipment that can operate with both technologies (4G and 5G) at the same time.

The new deployments will take place in tandem with a gradual shut-down of the old second and third-generation networks. 100% of the copper network will have been replaced by fibre by 2025, when the 3G network will also be shut down. This will permit more effective management of investments, as it won’t be necessary to increase them to address the new deployments.

Source:  Telefónica

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References:

TIP OpenRAN and O-RAN Alliance liaison and collaboration for Open Radio Access Networks

Overview:

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenRAN project and the O-RAN Alliance today announced a liaison agreement to ensure their alignment in developing interoperable, disaggregated and  open Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions.

Since their inception, the overlapping efforts of the two consortiums led to a lot of questions about duplication of work, different specs and interface for the same functions as well as different IP licensing policies.  The two groups are calling this liaison arrangement as a “new level of collaboration” for open RAN, rather than a merger.  The press release stated:

With this liaison agreement O-RAN and TIP are now reaching a new level of collaboration for open RAN. The liaison allows for sharing information, referencing specifications and conducting joint testing and integration efforts.

The O-RAN Alliance was formed in February 2018 when the x-RAN Forum merged with the C-RAN Alliance.  The group is focused on the development of open, intelligent, virtualized and interoperable RAN specifications. The Alliance has already created 31 specifications, with 37 demonstrations of the technology at past MWC events, global plugfests, and more than 1 000 000 lines of code released in partnership with the Linux Foundation. Operators have begun to announce network implementations.

O-RAN Alliance’s mission and focus complements TIP’s mission of deploying end-to-end disaggregated telecom infrastructure in varying environments.

TIP said it’s seen a rapid increase in demand for advanced OpenRAN trials and deployments.

  • Following on the heels of its TIP Summit announcement in November 2019, Vodafone launched trials in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is progressing with trials in the UK and Ireland.
  • In Indonesia, Indosat Ooredoo and Smartfren will conduct the first OpenRAN field trials in the APAC region. Smartfren has also conducted and completed the first OpenRAN lab trial in the region.
  • In Malaysia, Edotco, the tower arm of Axiata group, is collaborating with Celcom Axiata in conducting lab trials with the path to field trials. Following their announcement of TIP OpenRAN deployment in the UAE, Etisalat is starting trials of OpenRAN systems in other regions. In North America, Sprint completed its RFI evaluation and will begin trials of OpenRAN 5G NR technologies in its TIP Community Lab.

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Evenstar Program to feed into OpenRAN:

Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, MTI, AceAxis, Facebook Connectivity and additional partners have unveiled the Evenstar RRU (Remote Radio Units). The Evenstar program will focus on building general-purpose RAN reference designs for 4G/5G networks in the Open RAN ecosystem that are aligned with 3GPP and O-RAN specifications.

The Evenstar program will contribute to the OpenRAN ecosystem by focusing on building general-purpose RAN reference designs for 4G and 5G networks that are aligned with 3GPP and O-RAN specifications and will help accelerate the adoption of TIP OpenRAN Project Group Solutions.

By decoupling the RRU hardware, Central Unit (CU) and Distributed Unit (DU) software, mobile network operators will have the ability to select best-of-breed components and the flexibility to deploy solutions from an increasing number of technology partners, TIP said. The intention of the Evenstar program is to contribute the proposed solution into TIP’s OpenRAN Project Group to help accelerate adoption.

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Quotes:

“This new collaboration framework between O-RAN and TIP, two major initiatives in the area of open networking, will support our mission to re-shape the RAN industry towards open and intelligent mobile network infrastructure,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, COO of the O-RAN Alliance and SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom.

“Alignment on O-RAN interoperability efforts will help the industry to speed up the delivery of commercial open RAN solutions. The establishment of the first joint O-RAN Open Test and Integration Center (OTIC) with the TIP Community Lab in Berlin is a concrete step to facilitate this multi-community approach.”

“TIP’s OpenRAN solutions are an important element of our work to accelerate innovation across all elements of the network including Access, Transport, Core & Services. Across the TIP community, we are seeing increasing demand and have achieved meaningful progress with OpenRAN deployments around the world,” said Attilio Zani, Executive Director, Telecom Infra Project.

“With this collaboration framework in place, TIP and O-RAN will work together to develop interoperable 5G RAN solutions. One of our first outputs will be the release of the OpenRAN 5GNR NR Base Station Platform requirements document with normative references to the O-RAN specifications.”

“Our hope, longer term, is that this forms the ability to accelerate the solutions that are in the marketplace and drives greater adoption of Open RAN technologies across the world,” Zani added.

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About O-RAN Alliance:

O-RAN Alliance is a world-wide community of more than 160 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. As the RAN is an essential part of any mobile network, O-RAN Alliance’s mission is to re-shape the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN standards will enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN-compliant mobile networks will at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by the mobile operators. To achieve this, O-RAN Alliance publishes new RAN specifications, releases open software for the RAN, and supports its members in integration and testing of their implementations.

For a short video describing O-RAN’s progress, see www.o-ran.org/videos

For more information please visit www.o-ran.org

About Telecom Infra Project:

TIP is a collaborative telecom community that is evolving the infrastructure that underpins global connectivity. TIP’s mission is to accelerate the pace of innovation in next generation telecom networks, through the design, build, test and deployment of standards-based, open and disaggregated end-to-end solutions. Over the past four years, TIP has driven substantial innovation across all elements of the network including Access, Transport, Core & Services, while spanning urban through to rural market use cases. To date, it has 13 Community Labs which test, validate and integrate solutions, embarked on field trials in Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Europe. The recently launched TIP Exchange hosts 45 products from 28 member companies.

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Vodafone Moves to O-RAN:

One of those early-adopter operators of the O-RAN Alliance specs is Vodafone. In November 2019, Vodafone’s head of network strategy and architecture Santiago Tenorio announced at the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit in Amsterdam that Vodafone would issue a request for quotes (RFQ) for open RAN technology for its entire European footprint.

“That’s significantly more than 100,000 sites, and all the technologies are to tender — 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G,” said Tenorio. “We’ve invited the incumbent suppliers in Europe of course, but we’ve also invited the open RAN suppliers.” He didn’t sound too optimistic about the incumbent suppliers. Apparently, they hadn’t even responded to a Vodafone request for information about open 5G new radio equipment.

Mostafa Essa, an AI and data analytics distinguished engineer with Vodafone, told FierceWireless: “If you use a specific vendor for the RAN and ask him to carry some new features for something you are needing that is impacting your customers, they have to go back to their R&D and build up features,” said Essa. “Then we’ll test and give feedback. Right now, by using the open RAN concept, you can build up whatever you want whenever you want. It’s not connected to vendors’ roadmaps,” he added.

Vodafone has been conducting field trials in some of its markets in Europe, including Spain, Italy and in a rural area north of London. Vodafone used Parallel Wireless for its first open RAN tests, which it conducted in Turkey and Africa.

Essa continued: “We have a lot of instability, which is to be expected in trials. Right now, we are in the building phase. When you roll out this technology, sometimes you can get a lot of dropped calls and so on. But it’s the same as working with the vendors…..who are building systems with their own closed-source software.”

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200225005180/en/O-RAN-Alliance-Telecom-Infra-Project-TIP-Reach

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180227005673/en/xRAN-Forum-Merges-C-RAN-Alliance-Form-ORAN

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/vodafone-leads-early-adopter-phase-o-ran

https://www.lightreading.com/4g-3g-wifi/mavenir-highlights-role-in-tips-evenstar-program/d/d-id/757735

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/tip-o-ran-alliance-reach-liaison-agreement

 

Vodafone and Telecom Italia Reveal 5G network plans for Italy

1.    Vodafone Italy, which competes with Telecom Italia (TIM), has acquired spectrum to enable the deployment of 5G technology for €2.4 billion during the 5G spectrum auction that fetched $7.6 billion for the Government.

The Italian Government will collect 1,250 million euros from all mobile operators during the current year, 50 million in 2019, 300 million in 2020, 150 million in 2021, and the remaining in 2022 from the 5G auction.

Though telecom operators will be releasing the spectrum auction money in the next five years, it will pose challenges to the telecom industry in Italy. Bloomberg reports that 5G spectrum auction in Italy was a record as compared with the auction in South Korea.

“Spectrum auctions should be designed to balance fiscal requirements with the need for investment to enable economic development. It is critical that European governments avoid  artificial auction constructs which fail to strike a healthy balance for the industry,” Nick Read said in a statement.

Vodafone Italy, the second largest telecom operator, posted €1.231 billion revenue registering 6.5 percent drop in the first quarter ended 30 June 2018 against 0.7 percent increase in Q4 of previous fiscal.

Vodafone Italy and other operators are facing competition following the launch of a new entrant in late May. Vodafone Italy launched a new secondary brand to specifically address the needs of customers in the value segment of the market.

Vodafone Italy said the 5G spectrum will deliver network operating cost efficiency to meet the expected future growth in data traffic.

Vodafone Italy is buying 3700 MHz – 80 MHz for €1,685 million, 700 MHz – 2 x 10 MHz FDD for €683 million and 26 GHz – 200 MHz for €33 million.

Vodafone Italy will be using the 3700 MHz spectrum to enhance coverage, improve capacity, and for rapid development of 5G services. Vodafone Italy did not reveal the timing of its planned 5G launch in Italy.

Vodafone Italy will also utilize the 700 MHz spectrum, when it is available from 2022, to deploy 5G services, providing nationwide coverage at very high speed and very low latency for including IoT, virtual and augmented reality, connected vehicles and robotics. This indicates that Vodafone Italy will be playing in both the business and consumer markets of 5G to improve ARPU.

Vodafone Italy said it can also use the 26 GHz spectrum to deliver high capacity services in densely populated locations such as city centres, sports stadiums or industrial plants.

Vodafone said it is leading 5G trials promoted by the Ministry for Economic Development in Milan and its metropolitan area. Vodafone 5G network has already achieved coverage of 80 percent of Milan and targeting 80 percent 5G coverage in its metropolitan area by December 2018.

https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/vodafone-ceo-nick-read-on-5g-network-plans-in-italy-86682

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2.  Telecom Italia (TIM) has obtained 5G frequencies for an 80MHz block of 3700 MHz for 1,694 million euros and a 200MHz block of 26 GHz for 33 million euros.

In addition to the two blocks of 700 MHz, TIM’s total investment in the 5G spectrum auction will be 2,407 million euros.

“The switch on of the antenna in Bari certifies TIM’s technological primacy in 5G space in Italy,” Amos Genish said.

Investment in 5G network is an important part of the TIM strategy for sprucing up revenue in Italy. TIM’s telecom business in Italy has posted 7.454 billion euros in revenue in the first half of 2018 against 7.494 billion euros in the same period 2017.

TIM 5G will be focusing on both consumer and business customers. Consumer business of TIM’s telecom business in Italy has reported 3.753 billion euros in revenue, while 2.333 billion euros came from business customers and 860 million euros from wholesale business in Italy.

TIM will use 3700 MHz and 26 GHz to leverage the testing already underway in Turin, Bari and Matera and in the Republic of San Marino.

TIM has started to implement services for the Smart City targeting public security, transport, environmental monitoring, healthcare, tourism and culture, in San Marino.

The 3700 MHz band, already used for the tests launched at the start of the year, is available immediately.

TIM will use 26 GHz millimetre wave band, which will be available from 2019, to conduct road test for the first 5G services.  TIM will use the 700 MHz frequencies, available from 2022, to strengthen UBB coverage, including in indoor areas, with the implementation of 5G technology.

TIM said its 4G mobile broadband coverage reached over 98 percent of the population in Italy and fixed broadband reached 80 percent of homes via FTTC and FTTH technology.

https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/tim-ceo-amos-genish-reveals-5g-network-plans-in-italy-86680