Sunday, January 31, 2021

Ericsson posts strong Q4 as 5G contracts grow to 127

Ericsson reported Q4 2020 sales of SEK 69.6 billion (approximately US$8.325 billion), up by 13% YoY mainly driven by sales in North East Asia, Europe and North America, when adjusted for comparable units and currency. Reported net income was SEK 7.2 (4.5) b.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, states "Our R&D investments have continued to drive both technology leadership and cost efficiency which have led to increased market share and improved financial performance. We are today a leader in 5G with 127 commercial contracts and 79 operating networks around the world. Organic sales grew by 5% for the full year. Our operating margin of 12.5% (5.0%) exceeded our 2020 target and reached the 2022 Group target range two years early."

Regarding Sweden and China, Ekholm states: "The Swedish telecom regulator’s decision to exclude Chinese vendors from 5G networks may create exposure for our operations in China. Our business in 180 markets today has been built on free trade and open, competitive markets. This has also ensured the development of a single global standard for mobile communication. It is critical that responses to the geopolitical situation safeguard the extraordinary value associated with those operating standards for 5G and beyond."

Some highlights:

Networks sales grew organically1 by 20%, reporting a gross margin of 43.5% (41.1%) for Q4. Ericsson saw continued high activity levels in North America and North East Asia.

Digital Services gross margin grew to 41.0% (38.1%) in Q4. From 2017 to 2020, gross margin excluding restructuring charges and items affecting comparability increased from 29% to 42%, as a result of streamlined product portfolio, fewer critical contracts, a growing portion of software sales and lower service delivery costs. The cloud-native 5G portfolio has a high win ratio and significant new customer contracts will start to generate revenues during the next 12-18 months. 

Managed Services delivered a gross margin of 17.7% (15.4%) in Q4. Sales declined on operator consolidation in the US during 2020. The full-year 2020 operating margin was 8.1% – above the 5%-8% target.

Emerging Business and Other sales are growing in enterprise offerings such as IoT Platforms, complemented by the acquisition of Cradlepoint. Gross margin improved to 33.8% (15.1%) driven by operational leverage from growth and lower cost as a result of the exited Edge Gravity business.

Speaking on CNBC, Ekholm said the company plans to increase its presence in the United States.

Gigalight launches 400G QSFP-DD PSM8 transceivers

Shenzhen-based Gigalight introduced its 400G QSFP-DD PSM8 transceivers for 400G Ethernet and OTN at distances of 2km or 10km.

Gigalight said its new 400G PSM8 modules are based on a unique parallel optical design. The inside of the module uses a single PCB design, which reduces the difficulty of attaching the board. The process is simple, easy to mass produce, reliable in process, and controllable in thermal design. The performance and power consumption are excellent, which is believed to be the leading level in the industry.

Key features of GIGALIGHT 400G QSFP-DD PSM8 optical modules:

  • 8-lane parallel light engine
  • Dual rates of 400G Ethernet and OTN
  • Reach up to 2km or 10km
  • Uncooled 50G PAM4 EML lasers
  • High density design with good reliability
  • Low power consumption < 11W
  • Commercial operating temperature range of 0°C to 70°C

The company said it also plans to launch a 400G QSFP-DD DR4 parallel optical module based on silicon photonics technology in 2021.

Bharti Airtel demos upcoming 5G service in Hyderabad

Bharti Airtel demonstrated for the first time in India its upcoming LIVE 5G service over a commercial network.

Airtel's demo, which occurred in Hyderabad, ran over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band using NSA (Non Stand Alone) mode. Airtel used dynamic spectrum sharing to operate 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block. 

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel said: “I am very proud of our engineers who have worked tirelessly to showcase this incredible capability in Tech City, Hyderabad today. Every one of our investments is future proofed as this game changing test in Hyderabad proves. With Airtel being the first operator to demonstrate this capability, we have shown again that we have always been the first in India to pioneer new technologies in our quest for empowering Indians everywhere.”

“We believe India has the potential to become a global hub for 5G innovation. To make that happen we need the eco system to come together – applications, devices and network innovation. We are more than ready to do our bit.” added Gopal Vittal.

Crown Castle and Verizon enter long-term 5G Small Cell commitment

Crown Castle has signed a new long-term agreement with Verizon to support Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide deployment. Specifically, Verizon has committed to lease 15,000 new small cells from Crown Castle over the next four years. Once installed, the small cell leases will have an initial term of 10 years.

“Verizon has led the industry in 5G deployment and has been at the forefront of building a strong ecosystem of stakeholders who will continue to drive forward this essential platform for innovation,” said Gina Cacciatore, Executive Director of Network Engineering and Operations for Verizon. “This agreement with Crown is an important component of our 5G expansion plans and will advance the infrastructure requirements for many more people to access this revolutionary technology.”

“We are excited to expand our longstanding strategic relationship with Verizon with this significant small cell agreement,” stated Jay Brown, Crown Castle’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to continuing to support Verizon’s growth as they deploy 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide, and we believe our ability to offer a comprehensive solution with towers and small cells at scale provides us the best opportunity to deliver value as we support their wireless infrastructure needs.”

  • Crown Castle owns, operates and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 80,000 route miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major U.S. market. 
  • In December 2020, T-Mobile US, notified Crown Castle it was cancelling approximately 5,700 small cells contracted with Sprint Corporation ("Sprint Cancellation") prior to its merger with T-Mobile. The majority of the cancelled small cells were not yet constructed and, upon completion, would have been located at the same locations as other T-Mobile small cells. The Sprint Cancellation resulted in T-Mobile accelerating payment of all contractual rental obligations associated with the approximately 5,700 small cells as well as the payment of capital costs incurred to date.

DISH signs tower lease with Crown Castle

DISH signed a multi-year agreement with Crown Castle to lease space on up to 20,000 communication towers. As part of the agreement, DISH will receive certain fiber transport services and also have the option to utilize Crown Castle for pre-construction services. The agreement encompasses leases on towers located nationwide, helping DISH facilitate its buildout of the first open, standalone and virtualized 5G network in the U.S. Financial terms were...

Verizon signs power purchase deal for 152MW solar farm in Indiana

Verizon has entered into a power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Lightsource bp that will enable construction of a new 152.5 megawatt ac solar farm in Indiana.

The Bellflower solar farm, located about 40 miles east of Indianapolis in Henry and Rush Counties, is expected to become operational in 2022.

“Through their corporate sustainability commitment, Verizon is spurring development of clean and affordable energy sources in the U.S. that benefit us all,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp in the Americas. “Working together, we’re reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation for the overall grid while delivering substantial local economic benefits. Adding initiatives to enhance local biodiversity further multiplies solar’s contribution to preserving our planet for future generations.”

“Last year, Verizon issued its second $1 billion green bond, which will be used to fund long-term renewable energy purchase agreements – including this agreement with Lightsource bp – that support the construction of solar and wind facilities. These facilities will bring new renewable energy to the grids that power our networks,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer and vice president, supply chain operations. “Verizon is committed to supporting the transition to a greener grid by making substantial investments in renewable energy.”

STC calls on ADVA’s NFV suite for uCPE services

The Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is rolling out on-demand virtual services using ADVA’s Ensemble suite of network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies. The new universal CPE (uCPE) offering is built on the Dell EMC Networking Virtual Edge Platform (VEP) 1405 series running ADVA’s Ensemble Edge Cloud NFV suite. 

STC’s new uCPE offering enables businesses across the Middle East to select virtual products from the multivendor Ensemble Harmony Ecosystem. Enterprise customers of STC will be able to quickly and easily access virtual services, including routing, firewall, WAN optimization, IoT and voice applications.  The Dell EMC Networking VEP 1405 series is a compact, low-power uCPE appliance purpose-built to host VNFs and ideal for demanding SD-WAN applications. With ADVA’s Ensemble Connector as the NFVI platform, multiple VNFs can run on a single uCPE. Other key components include Ensemble Orchestrator and Virtualization Director, which provide a simple and effective management and orchestration (MANO) architecture, empowering STC to roll out secure virtualized services at scale.

“Today’s enterprises need to be agile. They require the freedom to mix and match the latest cloud technologies to seize new revenue opportunities in an instant. That’s what our new uCPE service is all about. It eliminates vendor lock-in and lets our clients experiment with best-in-class solutions that fit their specific needs and ambitions,” said Fahad A. Alhajeri, VP, digital solutions, STC. 

“STC’s uCPE service is ideal for connecting the enterprise to the cloud. Now businesses throughout the Middle East can leverage the power of virtualization and choose from the market’s widest range of onboarded commercial VNFs,” commented James Buchanan, GM, Edge Cloud, ADVA. “Our Ensemble suite’s MANO capabilities support the rollout of secure virtualized service across multiple locations with complete flexibility and scale. And, thanks to our Ensemble Connector’s zero-touch provisioning, STC can ship uCPE to a customer site and provision it securely with no need for technicians. With such rapid deployments and agile service creation at the network edge, STC is leading the way to the managed services of tomorrow.”

“By utilizing our Virtual Edge Platform 1405 series and ADVA’s Ensemble software, STC is giving its customers a simple way to respond to shifting industry demand,” said Drew Schulke, VP, Dell EMC Networking, Dell Technologies. “Working with ADVA, we’re empowering STC and its customers to digitalize their infrastructures. Now they can deploy solutions at the click of a mouse and harness advanced tools for boosting security, reducing costs and improving end-user customer experience.”

Inspur contributes rack management spec to OCP

Inspur has contribued a specification to the Open Compute Project that clarifies the scope of information collection, data presentation modes and hardware deployment options of collection modules in rack management.

Inspur said its specification provides a reference architecture for centralized rack management and lays the foundations for smarter operation of data centers.

Dozens of server nodes, fans, power supply and other components are integrated into a rack. These components are centrally managed and monitored by an RMC (Rack Management Controller). The OpenRMC design specification addresses the challenges of centralized management across different racks. In addition, it meets a range of needs among small and medium-sized data centers, such as enhancing automated operations capability, improving system availability, and reducing overall energy consumption.

OpenRMC Design Specification v1.0, contributed by Inspur, unifies the format and parameters of read data by defining the northbound and southbound specifications, allowing users to manage all racks in one interface. In terms of the northbound data presentation, OpenRMC is integrated with Redfish, the next-generation data center management standard, allowing all kinds of server data to be presented through a browser, an approach that is more user-friendly than a binary display mode. Meanwhile, firmware can be flashed remotely, making it more convenient for operations personnel to control.

“The OpenRMC Sub-project aims at an opensource-based rack management solution, which is fundamental to efficient, flexible, and open data center management. As the project-lead of the OpenRMC project, Inspur’s Rack Management Specification offers a significant push to the fulfillment of that goal,” said Rajeev Sharma, Director of Software & Technologies, of the OCP Foundation. “We are confident that Inspur and participating companies will yield more designs and specifications that apply Open Compute technologies to solving data center operation challenges.”

Wilson Guo, Inspur's senior technology director, said that Inspur has always been an active advocate of open source technologies ranging from Linux to OCP to OpenStack and is currently a member of three leading global open computing standards organizations. “Inspur has been involved in many open source communities in the hardware and software fields,” said Inspur’s Wilson. “To stay ahead of the future transformation of cloud data centers, Inspur has been driving the development of converged data centers and smart computing to advance the integration of open computing technologies and help build a truly open ecosystem.”

Huawei's optical distribution products gain TÜV SÜD Certification

 Huawei Digital QuickODN (DQ ODN) has recently been granted the first TÜV SÜD Certification Mark for optical distribution network products. The Huawei DQ ODN solution uses pre-connection and digital technologies to provide operators with a full-process splicing-free network construction solution, boosting network construction efficiency while reducing construction costs. In addition, AI image recognition and optical iris technologies are used to automatically collect ODN GIS, link topology, and loss information, achieving accurate and visualized resource management. 

TÜV SÜD is an international third-party testing organization founded 150 years ago that is dedicated to professional testing, inspection, and certification. It has extensive experience in communications product certification, with a panel of authoritative industry experts and first-class testing platforms. The global mark for optical distribution network products launched by TÜV SÜD strictly complies with IEC and ITU standards in testing and certifying the mechanical reliability, environmental reliability, and optical performance of the products and components. In addition to product testing, the certification process also involves factory quality assurance capability check, product consistency check, and post-certification supervision.