Friday, 26 September 2014

Apple signs up to the NGMN 5G direction

Apple earlier this month joined the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance (NGMN), as the organisation gears up for 5G. 

The NGMN staged a 5G workshop in Beijing attracting more than 100 experts from leading operators, vendors and research bodies. And it welcomed on board three new partners, including Apple. The other two were Dutch operator Ziggo and Peking University. 

The inclusion of Apple was mentioned in a release about the Beijing event from earlier in September but has only made the headlines now. The announcement said the three are expected to “significantly contribute” to the upcoming work of the NGMN 5G initiative. 

The alliance announced the launch of its 5G initiative at Mobile World Congress earlier this year.

Adore the war of words between carriers and Google? Google just smiles sweetly at Cincinnati Bell

Just this week, Cincinnati Bell began a marketing campaign for its 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) plan, which it will debut in September. Typical of the traditional ILECs, Cincinnati Bell has revealed no additional information on pricing or what parts of the city will be the first to get the service, which is an extension of its corporate 1 Gbps service to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). An extension to residential customers is expected next. So what is prompting the telco's 1 Gbps drive? In March, Cincinnati leaders approached Google Fiber about bringing their service to their city. At this point, the Internet giant has yet to name Cincinnati, or any new cities, as their next 1 Gbps service destination. 

Previously, Cincinnati unsuccessfully applied to become a Google Fiber city. Cincinnati's leadership wants to make the city a more competitive high-tech force. Having the gigabit connectivity availability for local businesses is one step in that direction. Perhaps not surprisingly, not long after the city leaders' story came out, Cincinnati Bell's Ted Torbeck wrote an opinion column for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He said that although Cincinnati Bell welcomes the competition, it has already built a sizable 5,700-route-mile fiber network that reaches over 7,000 businesses and more than 276,000 households. 

Fioptics passes about 40 percent of potential customers in Greater Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Bell has developed a plan to cover 60 to 70 percent of Cincinnati with the service by 2017. Cincinnati Bell is not a newcomer to the FTTP game, having offered its Fioptics FTTP-based residential service since 2009. However, it only offered download speeds ranging from 10-100 Mbps, with each speed tier including asymmetric upload speeds. Delivering 1 Gbps fiber-based service is not foreign territory to Cincinnati Bell. Since 2001 the service provider has been providing 1 Gbps services to its larger corporate clients. This June it began extending the higher-speed service to SMBs, including business incubator The Brandery. 

Cincinnati Bell wasted no time in taking a stab at its main competitor, Time Warner Cable, on its Fioptics site, touting that its 1 Gbps service is "20 times faster than Time Warner Cable's fastest internet speeds for residential customers." That's not to say that TWC isn't interested in 1 Gbps services. The cable MSO said in July that it is participating in Los Angeles' request for information (RFI) process that will target the buildout of a communitywide 1 Gbps network. But in the near term Cincinnati Bell can claim an advantage over TWC. Cincinnati is also not on the list for TWC's TW Maxx all-digital upgrade next year, which includes a 300 Mbps speed tier. Whether or not Google Fiber comes to Cincinnati or even to Ohio, it's not hard to overlook the effect that its initiative has had on the broadband industry overall. Just take a look at the recent activity of a number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 ILECs and a host of cable operators. 

Throughout this summer, a host of traditional telcos (AT&T, CenturyLink and Comporium) and cable operators (Suddenlink Communications, Bright House Networks, GCI Communications and Cox Communications) have announced plans to deploy 1 Gbps service. Both AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) have clearly set the most ambitious goals. These providers announced plans to deliver services to a proposed 100 and 16 cities, respectively. How broad these actual deployments will be is anyone's guess. Offering higher speeds for the Fioptics service, which has been one of its key revenue sources, is important for Cincinnati Bell as it looks to enhance its identity as a fiber-centric broadband wireline provider. This means that even if Google Fiber never sets foot onto Cincinnati soil, Cincinnati Bell needs to be prepared to have a competitive offering that residents and businesses want vs. running the risk of becoming an obsolete slow-speed provider.

Google is up to something with their wireless and fixed broadband infrastructure ventures

Project Loon continues to intrigue.

Beware the Ides of March!

Edward Snowden's leaks allow hackers to reverse-engineer NSA surveillance devices

Over the past year, we've learned of the many techniques the NSA has used to tap into global communications. However, Edward Snowden's document leaks didn't just uncover the gadgets the agency used, they also gave security researchers the necessary insights to develop their own. 

After the NSA's classified Advanced Network Technology catalogue was published, Michael Ossmann and his team set about recreating two of its approved radio-based surveillance devices: one that could be fixed to a computer's monitor connector to send on-screen images and another that can be fixed to a keyboard cable to collect keystrokes.

Before, nobody knew how the so-called "retro reflectors" worked, but armed with NSA documentation, Ossmann and co. were able to create their own tiny transistor-sized devices that could surreptitiously transfer wireless data to a nearby radio point (much like the NSA is reported to have done). 

For reference: intelligence officers can use radio-based trackers to monitor computers that are not connected to the internet. Now that the NSA tech is no longer a mystery, Ossmann intends to educate others about how the NSA's bugs operate so they can be protected against in the future. He presented his findings at the Defcon hacking conference in Las Vegas in August, alongside many other experts who have found ways to expose and rebuild the agency's technology.

Infrastructure startups gain momentum as 5G ramps up

Staying in stealth mode for 5G alpha testing continues to be a VERY GOOD bouncy idea!

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink

Renewable energy sources with very long payback periods are risky investments.

Vodafone chess game starts by partnership with the University of Dresden on 5G

Vodafone Group announced a partnership with Dresden University of Technology in Germany to expand its existing 5G network technology research programme. 
The operator group and university aim to bring together academics, developer and technology companies to examine the potential of 5G technology and to create technical guidelines for its development. Dresden University has opened a 5G lab, where it has facilities including network hardware and software, chipsets, spectrum and cloud computing infrastructure. 

Vodafone is working with other universities, such as Kings College London and Carnegie Mellon University in the US, along with technology companies and industry groups to drive 5G development. Along with EE and Telefonica, it was one of a number of industry players to throw its weight behind the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey in November last year. 

A Vodafone statement claimed experts predict 5G technology will boost speeds, resilience and intelligence of mobile networks. However, there is a great deal of hype around the subject, especially given the fact that an official 5G standard is unlikely to be ratified for at least another two years.

“Today, mobile communications is all about moving content from one place to another. Tomorrow it will be about being able to control a vast array of objects in real-time with little human intervention. To get there we need to rethink wireless communications, particularly with regard to data rates, latency and IP services,” noted Professor Gerhard Fettweis, the Vodafone chair of mobile communications systems at the Dresden University of Technology, in the Vodafone statement. 

He added that with support from Vodafone and other partners, Dresden “is well positioned to lead a cross-industry effort to find answers to some of these challenging questions”.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fixed broadband 5G research budget goes way up to $4 B for Huawei

Huawei is to pump over $4bn into fixed broadband R&D between now and 2017 in response to the advent of technologies such as high-efficiency video coding, 4K television and video, LTE and 5G networks. Huawei made the announcement at the company's Ultra-Broadband Forum 2014 in London. 

The event brought together industry professionals to address topics around what Huawei terms "ultra-broadband". “Huawei has always been focused on customer needs and adding value through core technologies and innovation,” explained the supplier’s president of products and solutions, Ryan Ding. “Huawei recognises fixed broadband as a key direction for strategic investment and will continue to increase the scale of investment in related technologies, core products and solutions. “Our investment will further develop technological advances, help customers increase their competitiveness and decrease overall operating costs.” 

The China-based networking supplier claimed the next three years will be a turning point in the development of fixed broadband technology, and hopes its investment will drive greater collaboration with competitors in fixed broadband. Huawei said it would expand pipeline capacity by developing chips, algorithms and silicon photonics. It will concentrate efforts on IP and all-optical networks, and SDN and NFV, which it said would create more open and intelligent networks. Europe plan Europe has so far played a major part in Huawei’s R&D plans.

Strategy marketing officer William Xu said he hoped to create a "Silicon Road" between China and Europe, drawing an analogy with the historic Silk Road, the ancient trading network that spanned central Asia. Huawei has already opened a number of research facilities in Europe and employs several thousand people across the continent. At an event in Shenzen, China, earlier this month, Huawei told Computer Weekly it planned to develop rapidly as a global IT supplier in spite of its inability to penetrate the lucrative US market. The network supplier said European expansion and emerging markets would help it gain sufficient scale to present a competitive challenge to the likes of Cisco and IBM. Huawei has already expanded beyond its core networking heritage into areas such as storage and datacentre hardware. It also has ambitious plans to become a top tier smartphone supplier, sitting alongside the likes of Apple and Samsung. 

Related Topics: Telecoms networks and broadband communications, Mobile networks, Smartphone technology, Data centre hardware, Network hardware, Software-defined networking (SDN), Network software, Server hardware, IT for telecoms and internet organisations, IT architecture, Networking hardware, Network routing and switching, IT innovation, research and development, Internet infrastructure, Voice networking and VoIP, Mobile hardware, Web development, Mobile networking

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Key elements of 5G mobile are being developed


Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the ITU – a UN agency championing ICT adoption and global standards – said it will play a key role in defining and standardising 5G and that “work was already well underway” to achieve that. 

“ITU and the ICT industry have recognised the relationship between IMT and 5G,” said the ITU secretary-general, adding that IMT will continue to involve a wider range of stakeholders to finalise requirements for 5G in much the same way as it has for 4G and 3G. His comments were made via video link to a London conference – the ‘5G Huddle’ – organised by the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF), a global wireless research community, and techUK (a lobby group for UK tech companies). IMT, or International Mobile Telecommunications, are requirements issued by the ITU-R working group. IMT has been in operation for nearly three decades. 

“Detailed investigation of the key elements of 5G is already under way, once again galvanising the highly successful partnership that ITU has forged with the mobile industry and a wide array of stakeholders in the mobile community,” added Toure. “The contribution of WWRF to on-going IMT development has also been very valuable in the past and we look forward to continuing this fruitful collaboration.” Toure said the mobile broadband boom and M2M growth called for a technology approach that addresses the full gamut of apps and devices that are beginning to emerge. 

Some 5G criteria, he said, include very high system capacity, extremely high data rates, greater spectrum efficiency, low energy consumption and high security. Self-awareness and self-adaptability, to accommodate different environments and changing demand, were also 5G features that he expected to emerge. ITU-R works with the likes of national regulators, network operators and academia on IMT. Toure expects the same type of open and transparent collaboration to continue on 5G in order to “establish criteria for IMT 2020 and beyond”. He expects a framework and overall objectives for future IMT development to be finalised in 2015. 

For some, however, the same old ways of working on standards is not appropriate for 5G. Theodore Sizer, VP of wireless research at Bell Labs – Alcatel-Lucent’s R&D arm – told Mobile World Live that 5G, because it will be so pervasive, will require a much more inclusive standardisation process than for previous generations of technology. If apps and content are to work well on 5G, maintained the Bell Labs man, then app and content providers would need to work “hand in glove” with people who are providing the networks and terminals.

Private sector is vital as we gold all the answers for 5G

LIVE FROM WWRF/techUK 5G HUDDLE: Ed Vaizey, the UK’s digital economy minister, talked up the achievements of the Spectrum Policy Forum on its first anniversary, while announcing another programme designed to further encourage technology growth. The forum is a self-styled ‘sounding board’ from the UK’s mobile industry to government and Ofcom, the country’s regulator. “The private sector is vital, you hold the answers,” the minister (pictured) told his audience. Hundreds of companies are members of the forum, he added. And they can tell government and regulator whether proposals are “desirable, practical or risky”. “Spectrum plays a huge role in future economic policy,” the minster emphasised. Other initiatives in the radio sector include joint Anglo-German research between the Universities of Surrey and Dresden into 5G, the theme of the day, as well as work on the crossover between 5G and IoT. However, spectrum is only one aspect of the digital economy and the minister also announced a new programme focused on promoting innovation, to be backed by techUK, the country’s technology trade association. The new programme is called the Future Technologies Network.

5 ideas using spectrum to drive future US market growth

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 NORTH AMERICA: Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, FCC, used her time in the spotlight this morning to outline five ideas to drive future US market growth, with the issue of spectrum playing a major role. First up, Rosenworcel told delegates at the Atlanta event that more must be done to incentivise federal authorities to free up spectrum for mobile services. “We’re on a hunt to find spectrum from federal airwaves and reuse them for commercial purposes,” she said. “We’re going to have to find ways to reward federal authorities for giving up spectrum.” Next up Rosenworcel turned attention to extending spectrum bands beyond the traditional 600MHz – 3 GHz frequencies usually used for mobile services. “We’re going to have to look high and low for spectrum for next-gen wireless networks. We can no longer limit ourselves to frequencies in the traditional range, we need to look elsewhere. On the low side we need to see if spectrum in the 400MHz range can be reused for mobile broadband. That’s not going to happen overnight. But we could develop a new swathe of airwaves primed for mobile broadband. And let’s bust through that 3GHz spectrum ceiling – let’s go all the way to 60 and 90GHz.” The FCC commissioner also talked of improving spectral efficiency, while acknowledging the important role WiFi plays in the mobile industry. “It’s time to give unlicensed spectrum its due. Let’s leave behind the tired notion of facing a choice between unlicensed and licensed spectrum – good policy requires both.” And Rosenworcel wants to strengthen the talent pool coming through the industry’s ranks. “Across government it’s time for a fresh infusion in engineering. We should create an honours programme for new engineers. The FCC could then be better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.” She described spectrum as the “biggest challenge” the mobile industry will face in the next five years, a view echoed by CTIA president Meredith Baker, who also appeared on the session. Baker hailed the country’s AWS-3 and 600MHz auctions as “great first steps” but warned that more work needs to be done. “We will need to find hundreds more MHz of spectrum to keep our industry growing for subscribers. And we need a light-touch regulatory regime,” she added.

Lots more to do before 5G arrives

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 NORTH AMERICA: After acknowledging the success of LTE in the North American market to date, Tony Melone, EVP and CTO of Verizon, highlighted three areas that he sees as critical for the future development of the 4G technology – IoT, unlicensed LTE, and interoperability. 

“There’s lots more for us as an industry to do, and some in the globe have done very well, and others are a little behind. And quite frankly in the US we’ve been one of the leaders in 4G LTE, and that’s because we’ve invested big. That hasn’t been an accident, it hasn’t been inevitable,” he said. 

Describing LTE as the first true mobile internet technology, the executive said that the internet of things will “absolutely be one of the key evolutions in the next three or four years.” “Today we have lots of standalone traditional devices, wear-ables, TVs, cars, you’ve heard about that. 

But the next step to really get to that promise of billions of devices, we need application-specific devices: very unique for serving specific applications, very low cost at scale, on a purpose-built architecture that can handle those amounts of connections,” he said “You will see that evolution happen over the next three or four years, is my prediction. That will drive the economies of scale, coupled with global standards, that will make this a tremendous step,” he continued. 

Moving on to the potential for 4G LTE using unlicensed spectrum, Melone said that this will be “a key ingredient to continue to spur innovation and evolution”. “Wi-Fi is a great technology, will be here for a long, long time, will continue to have a place. And unlicensed spectrum will continue to have a place too. But I believe 4G LTE will be able to leverage that unlicensed spectrum in a way that will enhance the customer experience,” he observed. 

Finally, moving onto interoperability, the executive said that “this is one where it’s core to our industry, it’s what our industry has done for years, but it’s an area where we are lagging, especially with 4G LTE”. “We need 4G LTE data roaming, we need that seamless capability we love, and we need it to happen quickly. It ties back to this ubiquity and the importance of this global standard”, he said. And Melone insisted the operator isn’t getting caught up in industry hype surrounding any future deployment of 5G technology. Noting that the technology is unlikely to be standardised and fully available for consumer testing until around 2018, he stated that it is too early for Verizon – or any operator – to have a roadmap for 5G rollout.

5G and Beyond

5G is the age of full connectivity. The era of partial mobile connectivity is drawing to a close. Full 5G connectivity will change the world of work forever. 

The first mobile phone call was made by New York Motorola engineer Martin Cooper in 1973. Now handsets are computers a thousand times more powerful than the total sum of Nasa’s computing capability 40 years ago. However, it wasn’t until the rollout of 3G and 4G LTE wireless broadband and cloud computing that the nature of work fundamentally changed. Now meaningful collaboration between departments and individuals can occur in real time from anywhere in the world. Remote workers are becoming more engaged and productive. 

Home-work lives are becoming more balanced. 

5G is nearing! 

The impact on business brought by 5G connectivity will be even more profound. 

Fifth generation connectivity is expected in the UK by 2020. Industry experts claim speeds could be 100 times faster than current UK 4G networks – reaching peaks of 1Gbit/s. 

Perhaps even more importantly, the coverage will span the whole of the UK, including remote areas. All businesses – whether digital in roots or not – will be affected by total connectivity. Imagine the paramedic operating on a patient on a mountainside while a hospital-based surgeon issues instructions. Or the personal trainer giving his client a workout from 200 miles away. 

The always-on connections afforded by 5G will begin to make our environments truly smart as the Internet of Things phenomenon develops. 

Apple announced in June its plan for iPhones to become control hubs for the home – allowing us to interact with devices using a network of sensors. Similarly, sensors on machines and in the environment will increasingly transmit information directly into business apps. 

Fulfilling potential Business meetings as we know them could even lose their meaning as barriers to collaboration fall away. Picking up a phone could become a thing of the past as always-open communication routes are accessed by voice commands or gestures. 

Brainstorms from teams spread across the world could become so frequent that they are used to augment every-day thought processes. Business decisions will be made with far greater speed, accuracy and efficiency as constant access to real-time information from colleagues, machines and processes is granted. 

The pace of commerce will quicken. Productivity will rise. With total connectivity and social collaborative software, technical limitations will have far less of a restrictive influence on the quality of human interactions. Mobile collaboration 

The Projectplace tool and smartphone app has been developed by pioneers of cloud connectivity for this always-on, anywhere world. It is enabled for any device and its free app operates on Android and IOS. 

Meanwhile, its digital kanban boards anchor the most complex modern-day projects around the most simple of visual processes. The era of true mobile working is just beginning. The collaborative work that can be facilitated by the best project management software, irrespective of geographic limitations, can drive the profits of every business.