Thursday, June 7, 2018

FWD: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai advances his reform agenda

Building on a series of regulatory reforms adopted last November, the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai has just adopted a new set of orders aimed at eliminating "unnecessary regulatory hurdles for carriers seeking to move from the networks of yesterday to the networks of tomorrow."

This set of reforms intends to:

  • Streamline the grandfathering of lower-speed data services where the carrier already provides fixed replacement data services at download speeds of 25 Megabits per second and 3 Mbps for uploads.  The streamlined process provides 10 days for public comment, and grandfathering is allowed automatically in 25 days, barring substantive objections.
  • Streamline the permanent discontinuance of services already grandfathered by the Commission for 180 days.  The process will now provide 10 days for comment and 31 days for an automatic grant.
  • Relieve carriers of discontinuance approval obligations for services with no customers and no reasonable requests for service for at least the preceding 30 days.
  • Eliminate burdensome, inflexible, and unnecessary education and outreach requirements for carriers discontinuing legacy voice services in the transition to next-generation IP services.
  • Allow carriers to seek streamlined discontinuance of legacy voice services when a carrier provides stand-alone interconnected VoIP throughout its affected service area, and at least one other stand-alone, facilities-based voice service is available from another provider.
  • Eliminate unnecessary and burdensome or redundant notifications for changes that may impact compatibility of customer premises equipment.
  • Facilitate rapid restoration of communications networks in the face of natural disasters and other unforeseen events by eliminating advance notice and waiting period requirements for network changes in exigent circumstances.

Currently, the five-person commission is missing one member, as the term of Mignon L. Clyburn, a Democrat, has expired. This means the FCC is currently served by 3 Republicans (Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, and Commissioner Brendan Carr) and only one Democrat (Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel). Not surprisingly, on issues of regulatory reform and "elimination of burdensome rules" the Republicans voted in favor of the measuring, believing it to be business-friendly, while the lone Democrat voted against it, arguing that rules are needed as safeguards for the public.

Ajit Pai put it this way: "Last November, we took steps to accelerate the transition to next-generation networks.  Today, we do even more to modernize our rules.  These reforms can free up billions of dollars which carriers can devote to building new networks instead of propping up old ones.  This is especially important in rural America, where the business case for building broadband is often hard.
The end result of all these efforts will be more rapid deployment, which means better, faster broadband and more competition for American consumers. One example of a reform we adopt today is our decision to streamline the discontinuance process for low-speed data services if a carrier is already providing high-speed broadband—i.e., at least 25/3 Mbps.  This links regulatory relief to the provision of high-quality replacement services, which will both encourage the building of modern networks and ensure that consumers are protected." 

In dissent, Jessica Rosenworcel writes: "When a carrier wants to make big changes to its network, this agency had policies in place to ensure no consumers were cut off from communications.  In other words, leave no consumer behind.  We had rules that required carriers to educate their customers about network alterations and simply answer calls about how their service might be changed when old facilities were swapped out for new.  Today the FCC guts these basic consumer protection policies.  It tosses them out.  It says we don’t need them.  So what does that mean?  Imagine a grandmother living in a rural community.  Her service provider wants to make big network changes because the cost of serving that remote area with traditional network technology now exceeds the revenue.  That makes sense for the carrier.  But for our grandmother, she just wants to know that her phone, her health monitor, and her alarm system—all of which rely on her current network—continue to work.  She wants a heads up.  She wants to be able to navigate change and understand what will require a new contract.  She wants information about what will involve a new service and at what cost... This is mean.  It’s not just mean to my fictional grandmother, it’s mean to millions of Americans who will find that their carriers can switch out services without advance notice or consumer education, leaving them scrambling to find alternatives, reconfigure their homes and businesses in order to keep connected."

President Trump recently nominated Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be the replacement commission for Mignon Clyburn, for a term of five years from July 1, 2017. If approved by the Senate, his nomination is expected to restore a 3-2 balance inside the FCC. Sufficient for Ajit Pai to continue his reform program.

In the meantime, the 3-1 voting balance means that Pai has more leeway. Another order adopted this week with all 3 Republicans voting in favor waives the requirement for small, rural carriers to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (USF) on their broadband Internet access transmission service revenues. Hopefully, these small, rural carriers will pass the savings on to their end customers, thus lowering the cost of rural broadband. On the other hand, it may weaken the Universal Service Fund.

AT&T connects to Nokia's Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING)

AT&T is using Nokia's Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) to its enterprise customers the benefits of a global IoT ecosystem, including core network, dedicated IoT operations, billing, security, data analytics, etc.

AT&T and Nokia are also working together to develop, test and launch the next generation of IoT services for a wide range of industries including transportation, health, manufacturing, retail, agriculture, utilities, consumer electronics and smart cities.

Commercial deployment starts later this year.

Nokia's WING's core network assets are expected to be available in more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and the Middle East by the first quarter of 2020.

"Our work with Nokia WING will help clear away the complexity of large-scale IoT adoption so that our customers can unlock the potential of IoT worldwide," said Chris Penrose, President, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. "Boosted by Nokia's globally deployed 'one-stop shop' network technology, we can be more nimble and responsive to our customers' needs."

"This collaboration proves our commitment to the global IoT market, providing seamless connectivity across geographical borders and technologies," said Sanjay Goel, President of Global Services at Nokia. "With AT&T's leading position in IoT and proven experience meeting real customer needs, we have a winning combination to bolster our global IoT capabilities."

Nokia and T-Mobile hit bi-directional 5G NR milestone

Nokia and T-Mobile hit a major milestone with the completion of the first bi-directional over-the-air 5G data session on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio (NR) system in the U.S. 

The test, which occurred in T-Mobile’s Bellevue lab, used Nokia’s 3GPP-compliant high-capacity 5G solution in the 28 GHz band transmitting to a user equipment simulator. Equipment included Nokia AirScale baseband and radio, AirFrame server, and AirScale Cloud RAN running 5G NR 3GPP-compliant software.

“This test is a big step forward in building REAL 5G that will work on actual smartphones,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile. “We’re excited to continue our work with Nokia to move the future of wireless forward and bring 5G to customers!”

“This successful 3GPP compliant over-the-air data transmission represents an important step for T-Mobile and the commercialization of 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks, Nokia. “By building on the tests Nokia has previously conducted with T-Mobile, T-Mobile is well on its way to 5G commercial deployment.”

Dell'Oro: Service Provider Router & Carrier Ethernet Switch market contracts

The Service Provider Router & Carrier Ethernet Switch market contracted year-over-year to its lowest level in five years in the first quarter of 2018, according to a recently published report from Dell'Oro Group.
The quarterly contraction sets the stage for the first annual market decline since 2012 as telecom and cloud service providers reduce spending on IP infrastructure.

"Over the past two years, the Asia-Pacific region has been a major growth engine for the router market, but in 1Q18, driven in part by saturation in the China telecom market, router demand experienced a sharp decline," said Shin Umeda, Vice President at Dell'Oro Group.  "The weaker China market, combined with price reductions and network architecture evolution in North America, gives us a recipe for a market pull-back in 2018," added Umeda.

Additional highlights from the 1Q18 Router & Carrier Ethernet Switch Quarterly Report:

  • Despite the market's revenue contraction, 100 Gigabit Ethernet port shipments grew more than 35% year-over-year.
  • Cisco was the top ranked vendor in 1Q18, followed by Huawei, Nokia, and Juniper. These four vendors accounted for more than 90 percent of the market revenue in 1Q18.

IDC: Worldwide Quarterly Security Appliance sales up 14% in Q1

Worldwide vendor revenues for security appliances in the first quarter increased 14.3% year over year to $3.3 billion and shipments grew 18.9% year over year to 838,098 units, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Security Appliance Tracker.

"The first quarter of 2018 exhibited strong growth for network security due to consistent double-digit growth across nearly every region and continued momentum from UTM as vendors reported $240.6 million more in revenue for 1Q18 than in 1Q17. Firewall and UTM are the strongest areas of growth as network refreshes drive perimeter security refreshes and as vendors add new features and improve performance across all product lines," said Robert Ayoub, program director, Security Products.

Some highlights from IDC:

  • The Unified Threat Management (UTM) sub-market reached record-high revenues of $2.1 billion in 1Q18, a year-over-year growth of 16.1%. The UTM market now represents more than 53% of worldwide revenues in the security appliance market. 
  • The Firewall and Content Management sub-markets recorded year-over-year revenue growth in 1Q18 of 17.4% and 7.5%, respectively. 
  • The Intrusion Detection and Prevention and Virtual Private Network (VPN) sub-markets experienced weakening revenues in the quarter with year-over-year declines of 13.0% and 3.0%, respectively.
  • The United States delivered 42.3% of the worldwide security appliance market revenue and was the major driver for spending in Q1 2018 with 16.7% year-over-year growth. 
  • Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) had the strongest year-over-year revenue growth in 1Q18 at 15.9% and captured 21.0% revenue market share. 
  • The more mature regions of the world – the United States and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – combined to provide nearly two thirds of the global security appliance market revenue. 
  • EMEA saw an annual increase of 11.6%. 
  • Asia/Pacific (including Japan)(APJ) and the Americas (Canada, Latin America, and the U.S.) experienced year-over-year growth of 13.1% and 16.3%, respectively.

U.S. reaches deal to save ZTE

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a deal to allow the export of U.S. components and technology to ZTE, enabling the company to resume operations.

Under the deal,  ZTE must pay $1 billion and place an additional $400 million in escrow. ZTE also agreed to certain provisions allowing monitoring of its compliance with U.S. export control laws.

“Today, BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) is imposing the largest penalty it has ever levied and requiring that ZTE adopt unprecedented compliance measures,” said Secretary Ross. “We will closely monitor ZTE’s behavior. If they commit any further violations, we would again be able to deny them access to U.S. technology as well as collect the additional $400 million in escrow."

Last year, ZTE paid $892 million in penalties to the U.S government in a March 2017 settlement agreement.

Trading of ZTE shares in Hong Kong has been suspended since April 16th. The company halted major operating activities on May 9.

Alibaba Cloud builds an "Agricultural Brain" service

Alibaba Cloud is launching a proprietary ET Agricultural Brain service that taps into its AI technologies such as visual recognition, voice recognition and real-time environmental parameter monitoring.

The AI program has been adopted already by a number of pig farms, where the Agricultural Brain monitors each hog’s daily activity, growth indicators, pregnancy and other health conditions, bringing more insight throughout the pig farming industry chain.

Simon HU, Senior Vice President of Alibaba Group and President of Alibaba Cloud said: “Agriculture and animal husbandry industry is a strategic sector and matters to the lives of billions across China. At Alibaba Cloud, we are committed to using our world-class technology to resolve real-life problems. For this reason, we launched ET Agricultural Brain with a number of partners in the agriculture sector. We believe enhanced operating efficiency will help ensure pork supply and maintain a stable market price that will benefit enterprises and consumers alike in China. In the future, ET Agricultural Brain can be adopted across many other sectors, including forestry and fisheries, helping enterprises and individual farmers increase efficiency and improve quality of production and providing a greener and healthier option for consumers.”

Zayo to build Private Dedicated Wavelength Network for Hospital System

A major health system in the south-central U.S. has selected Zayo to provide a Private Dedicated Wavelength Network (PDN-W). A 40G network will provide diverse connectivity between the customer’s primary hospital campuses and data centers, supporting all data needs, from electronic health records (EHR) to medical device applications.

“Zayo’s solution will deliver the dedicated, diverse, high-performance infrastructure that the customer requires to provide the highest levels of patient care across its system,” said Jack Waters, CTO and president of Fiber Solutions. “Our ability to architect the right solution and flexibility to adjust the service levels to meet the customer’s needs were instrumental in earning their continued business.”