Sunday, May 2, 2021

Changing the Rules of the Road with Wireless Wireline Convergence

 by Sally Bament, Vice President of Cloud and Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

Imagine that network infrastructure is a highway with two parallel roads going in the same direction: one for wireless and the other for wireline traffic. But there’s a big concrete barricade between them, and no one in one lane can see what is happening in the other. Now, let’s say there’s an event that changes the rules of the road, such as the pandemic. Virtually overnight, traffic patterns change wildly. There’s less commuting traffic, as rush hour has virtually disappeared. There’s more big-rig traffic, as consumers switched to a fully digital way of life. And while the big-rig traffic could really benefit from more lanes, jumping the concrete barricade simply is not an option.

When transportation systems are rigid and traffic becomes more complicated and dynamic, what are the options? A rebuild of the physical roadway is one option, but it’s expensive, disruptive and takes far too long. Worse, the same result could occur without the ability to adapt to future traffic patterns. 

Fortunately, when it comes to improving network infrastructure, there’s an easier choice – Wireless Wireline Convergence – a set of standards that turns constrained, siloed systems into a unified stack for service delivery. Put simply, Wireless Wireline Convergence (known as WWC) doesn’t break down siloes, instead, it rewires traffic to rise above them. In other words, WWC supports co-existence, interworking and interoperability – for service providers, that means they finally have flexibility in how, where, and when they move toward convergence.

Service Providers Take a Different Road 

The shift to WWC is coming at the right time as demands on service providers have reached an all-time high, requiring them to deliver seamless connectivity to subscribers as traffic patterns shifted and hit peak levels literally overnight.

After all, Fixed Mobile Convergence (WWC’s predecessor) has its limitations. Although it was designed to bridge services across siloed wireless and wireline infrastructures, Fixed Mobile Convergence failed to gain traction because software was tightly integrated with existing siloed platforms. But now, today’s leading service providers are already working to implement different aspects of WWC. Beyond the obvious advantage of a converged network with respect to operational costs, WWC has the ability to deliver new, differentiated service experiences. 

For example, it unlocks superior connectivity by ushering in a consistent access-agnostic service experience, meaning customers get consistent features across multi-access networks and different customer premises equipment. WWC also delivers improved application experiences by making it possible to aggregate available wireless and wireline bandwidth into one logical link that can improve speed, quality of service and reliability. 

And with so much bandwidth being consumed at the network edge from subscribers, devices and applications, the demand to turn up services even faster at the edge has never been so high. Service providers have responded quickly to manage the surge in traffic while avoiding lagging, downgraded quality, and slower speeds, but this on its own isn’t enough – now WWC helps them offer edge services at an even faster rate. 

All Roads Lead to WWC

It’s an extraordinary time for service providers around the globe as the industry undergoes long-term changes in relation to how they build, design and manage their networks. With these changes, service providers are finally seeing a wide-open road for convergence of wired and wireline services in a single service stack. By taking advantage of WWC, service providers can finally break down the walls separating yesterday’s siloed architectures and build a more versatile, powerful network for the future.

WWC will play an increasingly important role in the evolution of the network access and edge. It will help enable an exhilarating degree of freedom in planning and executing business strategies, including distributing network resources where and when they are needed. As major service providers look to incorporate WWC into their strategies, they’ll soon deliver the perfect “road” to meet their changing traffic needs.

Frontier emerges from Chapter 11 and sets sights on fiber expansion

Frontier Communications completed its financial restructuring process and emerged from Chapter 11. 

Through the bankruptcy proceedings, Frontier has reduced its debt by approximately $11 billion and annual interest expense by approximately $1 billion. The company says it is now well-positioned to accelerate its transformation to become a leading telecommunications technology company in the United States through investment in innovation, fiber infrastructure expansion and operational enhancements.

“Today Frontier takes a critical step forward in its multi-year strategic transformation, emerging as a stronger company poised to lead in its mission of Building Gigabit America,” said Nick Jeffery, President and Chief Executive Officer. “With a healthier financial position, we now have the right foundation to reinvent Frontier by accelerating investment in our fiber upgrades and delivering innovative solutions for our customers. Together, our team will accelerate our momentum and unlock Frontier’s full potential. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Company as we enter this new chapter.”

Frontier has embarked on a full operational review of its business that will consider every aspect of Frontier’s operations, including its approach to building its fiber network, customer engagement, digital strategy, costs, and organizational structure and culture. This review, which Frontier expects to complete by August, will build on the company’s initial fiber expansion plan that was launched during the financial restructuring.

Mr. Jeffery stated, “Our initial fiber expansion plan is a bold and ambitious undertaking that supports Frontier’s customer-centric strategy to become a fiber-rich provider with enhanced competitive positioning in markets with attractive returns. Through this plan, we will continue to deliver on our commitments to achieve improvements to our net promoter score, churn reduction, and wider customer and employee satisfaction. Our entire organization is energized and focused on the successful execution of our plan that will support Frontier’s mission well into the future.”

As part of the initial fiber expansion plan, Frontier is deploying capital and pursuing an extensive fiber build-out plan that will accelerate the Company’s transformation from a legacy provider of copper-based services to a fiber-based provider. This plan builds on Frontier’s successful Fiber-to-the-Home pilot program, using the planning, engineering, construction, and marketing knowledge gained from the pilot. Under the first phase of the plan, Frontier intends to invest heavily and pass more than 3 million homes and business locations, enabling a total of over 6 million homes and businesses with Gig-plus speeds.

Frontier is planning to pass approximately 495,000 additional locations in 2021.

Swisscom picks Cisco for IP network transformation

Swisscom has selected Cisco as its preferred supplier for a five-year IP network transformation project.

As a legacy of the past, Swisscom's current networking landscape is complex and heterogenous, and the service provider currently operates more than 10 IP networks. As part of Swisscom's “Network Vision 2030+”, Cisco has been chosen as the preferred supplier to simplify this complex conglomerate and consolidate the different networks into one.

“This last year has highlighted the criticality of a strong network. Whether it’s business adopting a hybrid-working model, kids learning online, or families communicating with loved ones across the world. It’s essential that our customers have a high-performance network they can rely on to keep them connected,” said Christoph Aeschlimann, CIO and CTO of Swisscom. “Simplifying our complex, legacy network with Cisco will allow us to meet the demands of the future of the internet efficiently, securely, and with massive-scale.”

FCC readies $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel circulated a draft order to establish the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which would reimburse schools and libraries for the purchase, during the COVID-19 pandemic, of laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots and other eligible equipment as well as broadband connections for students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband service during this unprecedented time.

“During the pandemic, our classrooms went virtual and what was already an unconscionable homework gap has become a learning chasm with even more devastating consequences,” said Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “Even as the pandemic ebbs in some areas and surges in others, millions of students are still engaged in remote learning, and there is no time to lose.  Congress has entrusted the Commission with the vital task of providing relief to our students, teachers, school staff, and library patrons – and has mandated that we do so quickly.”

“Developing rules on an expedited basis to administer an emergency $7.17 billion fund is a complex task and so I appreciate Commissioner Brendan Carr’s encouragement to share a draft with the public as the Commission finalizes the structure of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program,” said Rosenworcel.  “I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on this important program.”

Ribbon posts Q1 sales of $193 million

Ribbon Communications revenue for the first quarter of 2021 was $193 million, compared to $158 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 22%.  This includes a $37 million year over year revenue increase related to acquisition of ECI Telecom Group Ltd. ("ECI"), which closed on March 3, 2020.

"We are off to a good start in 2021 with first quarter results in line with our expectations, and we are particularly pleased with our Adjusted EBITDA exceeding our guidance range and earnings per share at the high end of the range," noted Bruce McClelland, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ribbon Communications.  "We look forward to building on this success as we continue to realize the benefits of our broader portfolio and robust customer relationships."