We held back our newsletter a couple of days more to accommodate MWC announcements. I hope you find our expanded coverage for February + MWC 2022 helpful.
Meanwhile, the team at AvidThink would like to express our support for the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. You can find lots of resources online on how to best support, but here’s a couple from NPR and CBS News.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022
61K+ people in Barcelona — a surprising number of attendees at MWC 2022. It was appreciated by the telco and networking community. Our team on the ground felt the return of the crowds, though it was a more comfortable experience than rubbing shoulders with 110K+ attendees in 2019. We had conversations with other attendees about whether GSMA could cap the number of attendees to this year’s count and keep hotel rates sane while preventing overcrowding — alas, they have no incentive to do so.
In any case, with 40+ scheduled meetings and more chance meetings in the halls, we were kept busy and want to express our huge appreciation to the companies who spent time with us, educating us on the latest in the telco and enterprise networking markets.
2022 MWC Showcase
With the assistance of our partner, Converge! Digest, we were able to capture the excitement at the show on video. Check out our MWC 2022 showcase site that’s already chalked up over 8,000 video views since last week and will easily top 10,000 shortly.
We’re happy to chat with you about key trends we observed and have already taken a few meeting requests this week to do so. Simply reach out to us at email@example.com and we can arrange a time.
Some high-level observations include:
- Open everything – Open RAN, open core, open transport. Disaggregation and multi-vendor interoperability, along with O-RAN and the RIC (RAN intelligent controller), feels like a second coming of the SDN controller but maybe more successful this time.
- Cloud-native everything – Moving telco systems (OSS/BSS, network functions, etc.) onto cloud-native platforms. This includes Rakuten’s impressive Symworld demonstration and a driver behind their acquisition of Robin.io (which they had already previously invested in).
- Maturing 5G – Multiple displays of leveraging 5G networks for new enterprise use cases, the usual AR/VR/XR fanfare, and (cue drumroll….) the Metaverse. We’re not entirely sold on Metaverse yet, but we’re seeing efforts to define what Metaverse-ready networks should be.
- Private 5G – Strong interest in monetizing 5G technologies in enterprise networks with all parts of the ecosystem, including carriers, hyperscalers (AWS was out in full force, Azure made a strong showing, and Google was definitely present), global system integrators, networking vendors, and orchestration vendors.
- Network automation and assurance – Along with AIOps. A recognition of the complexity and scale of 5G networks and the need for automated processes and ongoing assurance and monitoring.
It was great seeing the return of large networking vendors and telco attendees wandering the halls. Larger carriers like Telefónica, DT, SK Telecom (with their 4D Metaverse ride) were keen to showcase their strengths, and Rakuten was eager to make an impression. Dish was impressive in how they managed to garner significant booth presence across multiple partners (VMware, AWS, Nokia, etc.), who helped market them despite Dish not actually having a booth.
Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson all had presence though Ericsson was less engaging (unless you were a customer), turning away press and analysts and recommending we return end of Wednesday or Thursday. Ericsson had put up an excellent and extensive pre-MWC briefing but might have miscalculated in their on-the-ground investment compared to other vendors. In the end, I’m sure GSMA heaved a huge sigh of relief at the overall success of the show, and we’re glad — they’ve been through so much the last few years.
In February, we moderated a fun and informative panel on Web3 – Reality or Vaporware for ACG Silicon Valley. It featured the inimitable Dan Pitt, Prof. Yunhong Liu (Santa Clara University), and Miko Matsumura (Gumi Cryptos Capital). Check out the recording if you have any interest in Web3!
We are looking forward to being in person at MPLS SD & AINet World Congress 2022 (5-7 April) in Paris and then at Layer 123 Reunion (26-28 April) in Madrid. We’ll be giving the opening talks at both conferences and moderating informative and fun panels. Join us there if you can; we’d love to catch up!
We’ve also partnered with ONUG for their events this year, acting as an analyst. Sign up at Spring 2022 | ONUG for what promises to be another excellent enterprise-focused event from 27-28 April covering the key trends in security, networking, automation, and AIOps.
In the meantime, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating or sponsoring our sites: SD-WAN/SASE, telco and edge infrastructure, service assurance, SmartNICs, private mobile networks, data center networking, infrastructure security, and other new ones coming this year.
On to our news summary for February 2022 that also includes key MWC announcements.
Qualcomm is working with Microsoft on private 5G
Qualcomm is partnering with Microsoft on an end-to-end private 5G offering for enterprises. The solution will combine Qualcomm’s 5G private network RAN automation and hardware platform with Microsoft Azure’s private MEC, including its private 5G core and Azure Stack Edge. In addition, the partnership will leverage Qualcomm’s new 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem program.
Cisco unveils a private 5G product that combines 5G with Wi-Fi
Cisco introduced a Cisco Private 5G, a private wireless platform that it claims will integrate better with Wi-Fi because of Cisco’s experience building custom solutions for enterprises. The company will provide a management portal for customers and will offer a “pay-as-you-use” subscription model to minimize upfront costs. Cisco says it isn’t competing with wireless operators but instead is working with service providers to sell the new private 5G offering through operator sales channels. In addition, Cisco will white-label the product so service providers can sell it under their own brand. The company also announced that JMA Wireless will be its go-to-market partner for its private network platform.
JMA Wireless introduces a multi-operator x-RAN-based network
JMA Wireless announced a new x-RAN-based platform that the company says will allow multiple independent networks to operate on a single software-based infrastructure and have the same control and functionality of a fully independent network. The platform is powered by a software-based X-RAN architecture and can be used by enterprises for private network deployments or by mobile network operators that want to operate a network that is separate from other networks with its own performance criteria.
HPE offers a private 5G platform that integrates with Aruba Wi-Fi
HPE introduced a private 5G platform that integrates with its Aruba Wi-Fi gear to provide enterprises with the option of using both technologies. HPE said that the 5G will provide wide-area coverage but that Wi-Fi is a more cost-effective indoor option. The hybrid platform will switch between both networks depending upon need. HPE’s private 5G platform incorporates the company’s HPE 5G Core, which is open, cloud-native, and container-based. So far, the HPE platform is compatible with Airspan’s 5G RAN equipment, but the company will add more vendors as they complete interoperability testing.
Accelleran added CBRS functionality to its O-RAN 5G private network platform
Accelleran added a feature to its Open RAN 5G private network platform that will make it compatible with the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) spectrum. This will allow customers to install the platform with spectrum automatically allocated through a CBRS spectrum access system (SAS). The company said that by adding CBRS functionality to its platform, customers avoid having to do the integration themselves. The CBRS feature will automatically enable micro-licensing of spectrum issued by the CBRS SAS server for private 5G networks.
Vodafone will put Open RAN in 30% of its cell sites by 2030
Vodafone said it will use Open RAN technology in 30% of its cell sites across Europe by 2030. Speaking at Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona, Spain, Vodafone Group CTO Johan Wibergh said that around 30,000 sites in Europe will eventually be outfitted with Open RAN but that the first cell sites to make the switch will be those in rural areas. In addition, when Vodafone’s Open RAN rollout hits the larger metro areas, the company will reuse those existing 5G cell sites with traditional RAN elsewhere in the network.
BT Group unconvinced about Open RAN
BT Group believes Open RAN is just one of several paths operators can take to improve the performance of the network and reduce costs. Neil McRae, MD of architecture and strategy and chief architect at BT Group, told Mobile World Live that he doesn’t think Open RAN alone will save operators money. In addition, he said that while Open RAN is important for making multi-vendor networks scalable, he said that operators have many choices when it comes to what technology to deploy, and Open RAN has to not only be less costly than traditional RAN, it also has to perform well and be sustainable.
Mavenir launches OpenBeam line of O-RAN radios
Mavenir introduced OpenBeam, a new portfolio of Open RAN radios that are designed to provide service providers with more options. The OpenBeam radios can be deployed modularly with other O-RAN-compliant equipment such as virtualized base stations and 5G cores. They are available for both licensed and unlicensed spectrum and can work with both macrocell and microcell units, and can be used with millimeter wave spectrum and massive MIMO.
AT&T’s Open-RAN efforts with Intel are progressing
AT&T says it has made significant progress toward deploying Open-RAN in its mobile network. The company is using Intel’s FlexRAN software stack and Xeon processors to develop an “advanced DU pooling” technology that will distribute baseband processors across multiple servers. And the company is also working with its RAN suppliers to incorporate the DU pooling technology into commercial RAN software products.
Rakuten, Qualcomm make 5G Open-RAN units with Massive MIMO
Rakuten Mobile is working with Qualcomm to deliver Open RAN-compliant 5G radio units that incorporate Massive MIMO and use Qualcomm’s QRU100 5G RAN platform, and X100 5G RAN accelerator card. The goal is to deploy the 5G O-RAN gear in Rakuten’s network in Japan and have it become part of Rakuten Symphony’s Symware portfolio.
Nokia adds intelligence to the RAN
Nokia is adding machine learning capabilities to its RAN operations with the intent of increasing its ability to handle complex operations in a 5G network as well as reducing energy consumption. Called Intelligent RAN Operations, the company is currently testing the platform on a live network and seeing efficiency gains of up to 80% with zero-touch optimization and 70% fewer issues to solve. By adding ML technology, Nokia says it is better able to detect, categorize and fix network issues in real time.
Regional carrier Cellcom says Open RAN is a struggle
Regional operator Cellcom was an early proponent of Open RAN and announced in 2018 that it was working with Parallel Wireless to test its Open RAN solution. But the company recently admitted that Open RAN hadn’t been an easy fit because Cellcom is working on densifying its network and adding cell sites to enable more capacity and a better customer experience. Instead of adding multiple cell sites in one area, it’s adding one or two and then moving to a new area, which company executives said isn’t a good way to use Open RAN technology. The service provider is currently rolling out 5G in parts of Wisconsin.
DT wants O-RAN to move from trials to commercial by 2023
Deutsche Telekom has been trialing Open RAN technology in the city of Neubrandenburg, and by 2023, the company wants O-RAN to be commercial in its network. DT has been trialing O-RAN since late 2020 and still hasn’t deployed the technology commercially in its network. Nevertheless, the company told Light Reading it is in the midst of selecting O-RAN vendors in anticipation of a 2023 commercial deployment.
Next G Alliance gives recommendations for 6G development
The Next G Alliance released a 49-page white paper that provides goals for 6G development. The group, which is part of ATIS, said that the intent of the paper is to establish leadership in North America for 6G. The paper presents six goals, including future global standards, deployments, products, operations, and services in 6G. The alliance is attempting to address the development of the technology early, not only from a technological point of view but also from a regulatory, societal, environmental, and geopolitical perspective.
Dish Network revealed the additional 5G markets it will launch by June
Dish Network is still trying to commercially launch its first 5G market in Las Vegas, but the company went ahead and revealed the additional 25 metro markets and more than 100 smaller cities where it will launch service by June. The company must cover 20% of the US population with 5G by the June 2022 deadline to meet requirements established by the FCC when it was awarded its 5G spectrum licenses. The major markets Dish revealed include Charlotte, NC; Albuquerque, NM; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Kansas City, KS; Nashville, TN; and Orlando, FL.
China Mobile plans to deploy 1 million 5G base stations by year-end
China Mobile said it would deploy 1 million 5G base stations in 2022 and forecast that there will be 330 million 5G subscribers by year-end. China’s three major operators ended 2021 with about 1.4 million 5G base stations, more than double what the country had in 2020. Speaking at Mobile World Congress, China Mobile Chairman Yang Jie praised the Winter Olympics in Beijing for its showcasing of 5G and providing inspiration for industry development and said that China will continue to push ahead on 5G. “We will keep pushing the construction of 5G and gigabit fiber networks.”
Verizon will provide 5G connectivity to Audi automobiles
Verizon will equip Audi vehicles in the US with 5G connectivity beginning with 2024 models. The company will embed 5G connectivity, including both the company’s C-band and millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G in Audi vehicles. Verizon’s 5G C-band network covers 100 million people and will expand to more than 250 million by 2024 and beyond. This is the first 5G automotive deal for Verizon, but the company currently provides LTE connectivity for Audi. AT&T has said that it will provide 5G connectivity for all GM cars beginning with its 2024 models.
Nsight’s Cellcom rolls out 5G in Wisconsin
Regional carrier Cellcom launched its 5G network in Wisconsin in early February. The operator has said it plans to bring the service to rural areas of its footprint and will use a variety of spectrum bands to accomplish that. The company currently has 5G available in eastern Wisconsin across Brown County, with sites in Shawano County and Langlade County. It plans to expand further throughout the year.
Verizon is working with universities for 5G apps and more
Verizon is working with Caltech, Penn State University, and Arizona State University on developing University 5G Labs where students and faculty can innovate with 5G. The labs allow for experimentation and also create a talent pipeline for potential new Verizon employees. Nikki Palmer, chief product development officer at Verizon, told FierceWireless that every lab is different, and some work on Verizon’s public network while others have a deployment that is more like a 5G private network. Some also involve mobile edge compute (MEC).
AT&T and Microsoft are building a private 5G edge
AT&T is working with Microsoft to integrate its 5G network with Microsoft’s Azure Private multi-edge compute (MEC). The goal of the partnership is to make private networks simple and flexible for enterprises to deploy and make it possible for enterprises to roam beyond the geographical boundaries of the private network and stay connected on the AT&T public network. The two companies have already teamed on MEC and are now taking that partnership a step further to include private 5G MEC. The private 5G edge product is not commercially available yet.
Bloomberg uses Verizon’s 5G to deliver 4K video
Bloomberg Media is working with Verizon on a trial to deliver 4K ultra-high-definition video content over 5G using mobile edge computing (MEC). The companies are working with streaming video platform firm Zixi and Amazon Web Services on the test. Verizon says that by using 5G Edge and AWS Wavelength, it can deliver high-def video with minimal latency. This scenario could provide an option for media companies that currently rely on satellites to deliver live news feeds.
Finland’s Elisa will use Wind River for 5G edge cloud
Finnish telco Elisa is working with Wind River on a fully automated 5G edge cloud that will deliver low-latency bandwidth-intensive 5G applications. The 5G edge cloud is currently in planning production now, with deployment scheduled for later this year. Elisa will use Wind River Studio as the distributed cloud platform, and Wind River will also provide automation and analytics tools.
SD-WAN and SASE
Verizon will expand SD-WAN with VMware
Verizon is expanding its portfolio of managed SD-WAN offerings by offering VMware’s SD-WAN as well as its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) portfolio and other components, including the VMware Orchestrator, VMware Gateways, and VMware Edge.
Juniper adds Secure Edge to SASE offerings
Juniper Networks is launching a new single-stack firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) offering called Juniper Secure Edge that will address security requirements for distributed and remote workforces. The FWaaS is part of the company’s growing Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) portfolio and was introduced as FWaaS products are becoming more popular.
Cato Networks expands its SASE platform’s security
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) provider Cato Networks is expanding the security side of its SASE platform by adding Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB). CASB controls access to cloud applications by managing the security policy enforcement requirements. CASN can manage single sign-on, authentication and authorization, device profiling, encryption, and more.
Cloudflare adds cloud-based email security to its SASE portfolio
Cloudflare acquired Area 1 Security for $162 million and plans to add the company’s technology to its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) portfolio. Area 1 Security makes a cloud-based email security solution that the company said effectively blocked more than 40 million phishing attempts, malware, ransomware, and other threats to business email in 2021. Cloudflare says that adding email security functionality to its SASE is a logical step for the company. The acquisition is scheduled to close in the second quarter.
Rakuten Symphony will include Nokia’s cloud-native software
Rakuten Symphony and Rakuten Mobile said that they will include all of Nokia’s cloud-native core software on Symphony’s Symworld marketplace. This will allow Rakuten Symphony to support the software in live network operations. The Symworld marketplace was created to simplify the process of telecom application onboarding and make all applications available to all Symworld customers.
Nokia extends adaptive cloud networking to the edge
Nokia unveiled a new platform that it says will connect a service provider’s data center fabric with the edge cloud. Pat McCabe, senior marketing manager of Nokia’s IP portfolio, said that the goal of Adaptive Cloud Networking is to make it easier for operators to manage and orchestrate network connectivity and provide seamless connectivity across the entire network, from the data center to the edge.
Google Cloud exec says cloud-native architecture will reduce costs
Moving to a cloud-native architecture is critical for telcos because they are facing a lot of challenges due to declining revenue growth, exploding data consumption, and the increased capital requirements of 5G, said Google Cloud’s Senior Director, Product Management of Telecom Gabriele Di Piazza. Speaking at a FierceTelecom virtual event, Di Piazza said that operators must not only transform how their networks are built but also how they are managed, and that means embracing cloud-native principles.
EXFO teams with Red Hat to bring 5G service assurance to the cloud
Testing company EXFO’s Nova Active u-Verifier service assurance solution is available as a Red Hat-certified container solution. This makes it possible for service providers and enterprises to gain better visibility into their mobile networks by using a cloud-native testing platform.
AWS will expand Local Zones to two dozen new countries
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is expanding its Local Zones cloud compute and storage to two dozen new countries. Local Zones, which launched in May 2021, are extensions of AWS’ cloud regions and enable customers to run applications physically closer to end users. Regions are AWS’ largest cloud zones and are comprised of multiple isolated Availability Zones. Local Zones are offshoots of Regions and are designed to deliver low latency, primarily in metro areas. AWS said it will expand Local Zones across the globe with planned launches in 32 new metropolitan areas in 26 countries over the next two years.
Juniper acquires WiteSand
Juniper Networks acquired WiteSand, a cloud-native, zero-trust Network Access Control vendor, and will combine the NAC with artificial intelligence capabilities to add a layer of security to its networking portfolio. NAC identifies devices that can securely connect to a network. In addition, it can deny devices from accessing the network resources and keep them from infecting the network.
SK Telecom plans to rule the Metaverse
SK Telecom said it will launch its ifland metaverse service in 80 countries this year as part of its effort to be a global leader in technology. SK Telecom launched ifland last July and had 1.1 million active monthly users at year-end. The time that users have spent on the platform more than doubled in the first six months, according to SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang. Young-sang said that ifland will be an open communications platform to allow user-generated content. In addition, SK Telecom plans to soon introduce a blockchain-enabled virtual marketplace
5G may not be a good fit for the Metaverse
Dan Rabinovitsj, a top executive at Meta (formerly Facebook), said in a blog post this week that Facebook/Meta wants the mobile industry to reduce network latency, provide symmetrical bandwidth and a “common framework” that would support the sharing of networking metrics among various vendors, providers, and network elements. However, experts say those demands may be difficult for 5G to implement because those are areas that 5G has historically struggled to do, both in terms of technological capabilities and business approaches.
Whew, plenty of news, but I think that’s it for now.
We’ll check in with you again next month, where we’ll bring you the latest news and updates! Stay safe!