Monday, July 5, 2021

Blueprint: Leveraging automation to accelerate assured service

By: Julius Francis, Head of Product Marketing & Strategy, Juniper Networks 

Despite the world’s transition to remote operations nearly overnight, customers have maintained high expectations that their experiences would remain seamless throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep pace with these expectations, service providers have had to shift their priorities to focus on automation in order to deliver reliable, efficient and scalable network operations despite surging traffic patterns and challenges posed by new disparate workforce models.

In fact, a study by Ernst & Young found that the main driver of automation adoption in telecommunications is the optimization of customer experience. Nearly four-fifths of respondents cited that the importance of optimizing the customer experience was the key reason for their adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). This concept is known as ‘Experience-First Networking,’ which requires a high level of automation to ensure large-scale networks are run reliably and efficiently.

However, the benefits of network automation extend not only to customer experience, but also to other critical areas where the network plays a foundational role, including Smart Cities, 5G growth, the introduction of AI for new applications and more.

The Vital Role of Networks in Emerging Applications and Smart Cities

There’s no doubt automated networking will play a vital role in the emergence of smart cities. In a recent report by ESI ThoughtLab, North American cities, including 40 in the United States, have more advanced digital services and digital infrastructure than their international counterparts. According to the report, cities in North America are the most prepared to deliver government services built on AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based software.

Beyond the United States, we’re seeing the emergence of smart cities around the world. In Singapore, one of the highest ranked smart cities in the world, there are impressive advances to the city’s technology infrastructure and ongoing digital initiatives. The smart city’s efforts were especially helpful in returning their citizens to normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic – the government used smart facility management, IoT and surveillance to create advanced, safe and livable urban environments.

With more than two-thirds of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050, networks are poised to play a foundational role in supporting the future of smart cities. As planning takes shape, connectivity will need to incorporate a blend of emerging applications and technologies that will require a strong network infrastructure centered around a secure, scalable and automated multi-cloud environment. Leveraging automation and AI will be extremely important in gathering and analyzing the large amounts of data these cities produce, while allowing networks to make real-time decisions for an overall assured service experience.  

The Growth of 5G

While 5G rollouts slowed in the past year due to the pandemic, we’re now seeing rollouts quickly progressing around the world. This is crucial, as the right 5G infrastructure is required to deliver the next generation of services and experiences to consumers, enterprises and government. 

It’s important to note that AI and automation are required to reduce the operational costs and complexities of 5G networks by automating complex network functionalities and effectively using data to make decisions and solve problems. With massive speeds, huge connection densities and ultra-low-latency experiences, automation will be a critical aspect of 5G rollouts.

Further, with the expansion of 5G, we’re sure to see progress in new consumer applications (e.g., gaming and augmented/virtual/mixed reality), as well as 5G for industry verticals, consumer broadband, enterprise broadband, cloud-managed services and more. As such, service providers should expect to invest in AI and automation to manage 5G networks, ensuring they are optimized to provide assured service experiences to customers.

Tapping AI for Greater User Experience

While network operators have long relied on manual processes for managing connectivity and fixing issues that arise, this approach has consistently introduced human error into the process. The past year made it more evident that connectivity will always be in demand; therefore, it’s no surprise to see service providers continue to invest in open, agile network architectures that enable them to respond, innovate and scale smartly – driven by the expansion of 5G networks, smart cites and other emerging technologies. 

AI-powered automation has the power to transform the way of designing, building and running networks by taking the guesswork out of network operations, removing human error and improving the decision-making process. This will allow service provides to deliver a consistent and assured service experience for both operations and customers.

As the rise of emerging technologies make networks more complex and workforces become more dispersed, service providers must embrace the concept of ‘Experience-First Networking’ and formally place automation at the forefront of their customer experience investment priorities.

Video: Three Pillars of Service Assurance

Are you ready to reimagine your network operations? In this video, Walter Kenrich, Sr Director Product Management for Analytics and SaaS at Ribbon Communications, discusses the three key pillars that telecom customers need to endorse in their service assurance efforts: visibility, agility, and automation.

Advanced Root Cause Analysis -

ML-Based Forecasting and Planner -

 Download the 2021 Service Assurance Report here:

Facebook announces Magma on AWS

Facebook announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to integrate the open source Magma cellular core technology with AWS’s edge computing services. 

Facebook says Magma on AWS Marketplace will enable service providers to deploy 4G and 5G networks significantly faster by obtaining AWS infrastructure preinstalled with Magma, no matter how large or small the deployment. With no licensing fees for the packet core software, Magma on AWS Marketplace will make fixed wireless and private network deployments quick and at a significantly lower cost of ownership.

Linux Foundation targets cellular core network stack with Magma

The Linux Foundation is launching an open source industry collaboration focused on enabling a converged cellular core network stack, starting with the Magma open source software platform. 

Magma, which was previously open sourced by Facebook in 2019,  will now be managed under a neutral governance framework at the Linux Foundation.

Arm, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, FreedomFi, Qualcomm, the Institute of Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University, the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance, and the Open Infrastructure Foundation, will join the collaboration as founding members to accelerate the path to production use cases at scale. 

Magma features an access-agnostic mobile packet core, advanced network automation and management tools, and the ability to integrate with existing LTE networks with use cases across both virtual and container Network Functions (xNFs) including fixed wireless access, carrier Wi-Fi, private LTE and 5G, network expansion, and mobile broadband. 

A number of Magma community members are also collaborating in the Telecom Infra Project (TIP)’s Open Core Network project group to define, build, test, and deploy core network products that leverage Magma software alongside disaggregated hardware and software solutions by the TIP Open Core ecosystem.

“Arm is synonymous with a diverse technology ecosystem that underpins the compute, connectivity, and security required for solutions spanning cloud to edge to endpoint devices,” said Chris Bergey, senior vice president and general manager, Infrastructure Line of Business, Arm. “Together with the Linux Foundation and Facebook Connectivity, Magma is helping to solve the very real challenge of providing feature-rich, cost effective access for worldwide mobile networks.”

“Bringing Magma to the Linux Foundation is a huge milestone as the Magma ecosystem of developers continues to grow,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, vice president for Facebook Connectivity. “We are excited to see the contributions and innovations from this collective group of industry players, and we look forward to celebrating Magma’s success as the project continues to scale.” 

“Qualcomm Technologies strongly supports the evolution of the Magma core network efforts into a broader coalition among the key founding and contributing projects,” said Douglas Knisely, engineer, principal, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and OSA Advisory Board member. “This effort builds on the collaboration activities and code contributions from OAI into the Magma project and promotes the harmonization of a common 5G Core Network reference architecture, internal structure, APIs, and interfaces for all of the emerging 5G open source projects in the industry.”

Facebook backs terrestrial cable projects in DRC, Pakistan, Indonesia

Facebook announced plans to back terrestrial fiber projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Pakistan

In the DRC, Facebook is working with Liquid Intelligent Technologies to build 2,200 kilometers of fiber to increase active long-haul fiber. The project will complete a missing fiber link between East and West Africa, and establish DRC as a connection hub for neighboring landlocked countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. The investment builds on Facebook's completion of DRC’s first privately held long-haul fiber route, from Muanda to Matadi. 

In Pakistan, Facebook recently announced its first terrestrial fiber investment to support the country’s digital transformation. Facebook is partnering with Nayatel to build 1,700 kilometers of open-access fiber to help address the growing demand for urban connectivity for 10 million people across eight cities. 

In Indonesia, Facebook is increasing its investment with Alita Praya Mitra to add fiber to the initial build areas and to additional cities to address the increasing demand for high-speed internet. 

Facebook also noted its backing of the 2Africa project and the Bifrost transpacific cable project.

2Africa subsea cable boasts design capacity up to 180 Tbps

2Africa, a new subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region, promises to deliver  more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

Consortium partners include China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to build the fully-funded cable. The project will leverage SDM1 (space division multiplexing) technology from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs instead of the eight fiber pairs supported by older technologies. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50% compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.

The 2Africa subsea cable will span 37,000km long, interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4. Each of the cable landing sites will offer carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.

In addition, the 2Africa parties and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade. This includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fiber on two new, diverse terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new subsea link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez. 

 Facebook backs Bifrost cable from U.S. to Southeast Asia

In addition to its participation in the Echo subsea cable from the U.S. to Singapore, Facebook confirmed its investment in the Bifrost Cable System from the U.S. to South East Asia.

The Bifrost Cable System will span over 15,000 km, connecting Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam and the west coast of North America. The cable is expected to be completed in 2024.

The project is also backed by Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation Limited (Keppel T&T) and Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), which is a subsidiary of PT Telkom Indonesia.

The partners say that when fully commissioned, the multiple fibre paired Bifrost Cable System will be the largest capacity cable across the Pacific Ocean.

Keppel T&T, Facebook and Telin have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) for the supply and installation works of the cable system.

“Connectivity is at the heart of our mission to give people the power to build community,” said Kevin Salvadori, Vice President, Network at Facebook. “We are committed to bringing more people online to a faster internet, to support the growth of digital economies, and to do this in collaboration with local partners.”

Facebook's Evenstar picks up Baicells, Marvell, MaxLinear, Sterlite

The Telecom Infra Project's Evenstar reference desing for O-RAN deployments has picked up new supply chain partners, including Baicells, Marvell, MaxLinear, and Sterlite Technologies Limited. Existing technology partners include ADI, Altiostar, Baicells, Flex, Mavenir, MTI, Parallel Wireless, and Xilinx.

Evenstar is focused on building general-purpose RAN reference architecture for 4G and 5G networks that decouples the RRU hardware, distributed unit (DU), and control unit (CU) software.

Facebook now expects commercial Evenstar deployments in the next half in APAC and Europe to scale OpenRAN adoption. The first Evenstar remote radio unit (RRU) product completed lab validation in December 2020. 

Vodafone outlines its O-RAN architecture and vendors

Vodafone named Dell, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies as strategic vendors for its commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Europe.Highlights:Samsung will be a reference RAN software provider. Samsung and NEC will supply Massive MIMO radio units based on the Telecom Infra Project's Evenstar whitebox designDell EMC PowerEdge servers will support the combined DU/CU function...

Marvell to supply OpenRAN Distributed Unit design for Facebook's Evenstar

 Marvell  will join the Evenstar program and work with Facebook Connectivity to provide a 4G/5G OpenRAN Distributed Unit (DU) design for Evenstar based on its OCTEON Fusion baseband processors and Arm-based OCTEON multi-core digital processing units (DPUs). The Evenstar program is a collaborative effort focused on building a general-purpose RAN reference architecture for 4G and 5G networks in the OpenRAN ecosystem. Specifically,...

MaxLinear collaborates on Facebook Connectivity's Evenstar

MaxLinear announced a collaboration with Facebook Connectivity to integrate silicon technologies and radio processing algorithms into Evenstar radio units (RUs). MaxLinear will integrate its MaxLin radio processing algorithms including Digital Pre-Distortion (DPD) and Crest Factor Reduction (CFR) technologies with Evenstar RUs to enhance performance and reduce cost.The Evenstar program is a collaborative effort focused on building a general-purpose...

TPG Telecom launches 700MHz 5G in Australia with Nokia

TPG Telecom switched on a live 5G standalone (SA) network in Australia on the 700MHz spectrum band using equipment from Nokia. 

Nokia is supplying equipment from its latest ReefShark based AirScale product range including its unique triple band remote radio unit that supports 700, 850 and 900 MHz bands. The unit also supports 3G, 4G and 5G simultaneously across all TPG Telecom’s low-band frequencies. TPG Telecom’s 5G SA service is now successfully activated in parts of Sydney and this means that the operator’s customers will benefit from having 5G available in more places.

Barry Kezik, Executive General Manager Mobile and Fixed Networks at TPG Telecom, said: “We’re excited to be the first network in the world to realise the true potential of low band 5G SA at 700MHz. TPG Telecom’s low band 5G will expand our 5G coverage, supporting our goal of reaching 85% of the population in Australia’s top six cities by the end of the year and changing the way people and things connect to the TPG Telecom 5G network.”

Dr Robert Joyce, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia Oceania, said: “Nokia is proud to support another 5G world first. We have a long-standing partnership with TPG Telecom, and we have jointly developed our unique triple band radio solution specifically for them. Today we get to see the result of that joint effort and collaboration which will deliver premium wide area 5G SA coverage for TPG Telecom and its customers.”

FTC charges Broadcom with monopolization

The Federal Trade Commission charged Broadcom with illegally monopolizing markets for semiconductor components and issued a proposed consent order under which Broadcom must stop requiring its customers to source components from Broadcom on an exclusive or near exclusive basis.

“Today’s complaint reflects the Commission’s commitment to enforcing the antitrust laws against monopolists, including in high-technology industries,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director Holly Vedova. “America has a monopoly problem. Today’s action is a step toward addressing that problem by pushing back against strong-arm tactics by a monopolist in important markets for key broadband components. There is much more work to be done and we need the tools and resources to do it. But I have full confidence in FTC staff’s commitment to this effort.”

The FTC is accussing Broadcom of being a monopolist in the sale of three types of semiconductor components that are used for delivering television and broadband services via set-top boxes. The chips include the core circuitry for streaming set top boxes and cable broadband devices, along with Wi-Fi chips and “front-end” chips for both set top boxes and broadband devices. Front-end chips convert incoming analog signals to digital signals.

The complaint alleges that Broadcom illegally maintained its power in the three monopolized markets by entering long-term agreements with both OEMs and service providers that prevented these customers from purchasing chips from Broadcom’s competitors. These agreements required customers to purchase, use or bid Broadcom’s chips on an exclusive or near-exclusive basis. 

Lightspeed to offer XGS PON in East of England

Lightspeed Broadband plans to offer a 10G symmetric fiber broadband service based on XGS-PONg to 1 million homes and businesses in the East of England by the end of 2025. 

Nokia will provide Lightspeed with its XGS-PON kit for both customer homes and the operator’s points of presence, and aggregation switching and IP edge solutions. It also includes Nokia’s whole-home Wi-Fi 6 Beacons and Nokia’s Altiplano management platform.

Steve Haines, CEO, Lightspeed Broadband, said: “We are delighted to be a key account for Nokia, which we feel reflects our strategic relationship and growth potential. Nokia has demonstrated the flexibility and agility we need to support our ambitious deployment plans.”

Jeremy Steventon-Barnes, CTO, Lightspeed Broadband, said: “Following a rigorous selection process we chose Nokia for their industry-leading and future-proofed solution which means we can offer 10Gb/s services with best-in-class whole-home Wi-Fi 6 today, and upgrade to even faster speeds in the future.”

Lightspeed will connect the first 100,000 customers by the end of 2022, starting in 10 market towns in South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk, including Spalding, Stamford, Boston and King’s Lynn, and expanding through Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

Nokia aims Quillion chipset at next gen access

Nokia outlined plans for a new family of chipsets to power next-generation massive scale access networks.

The forthcoming "Quillion" chipset will allow operators to introduce 10G PON in their fiber networks and to serve more users from access nodes. For next-generation fiber access networks, the Quillion chipset powers Nokia’s 16-port Multi-PON line card, which supports both GPON and NG-PON on each port. This allows operators with an existing GPON network to simply “switch on” NG-PON services on each port without recabling or disrupting the GPON service.

Nokia said Quillion is also optimized to allow for low-latency applications that are critical for 5G transport and has built-in programmability to support intents that pave the way toward automated workflows, such as network slicing for 5G transport.

In addition, the Quillion chipset supports copper infrastructure access, including the highest density and Vplus solutions on the market.

Telecom Armenia picks Nokia's 25G PON

Nokia's confirmed a country-wide deal to supply PON solutions to Telecom Armenia.  The first  PON network was switched on this week at an event held by Telecom Armenia. 

Telecom Armenia will deploy Nokia’s GPON and XGS-PON fiber equipment, which is software upgradable to 25G PON technology in future, along with its Wi-Fi Beacons and Altiplano management platform. Covering both the network and customer homes, the comprehensive solution from Nokia will initially be used by Telecom Armenia to connect customers to broadband access in the capital city of Yerevan before rolling out services to the rest of the country. 

Hayk Yesayan, CEO of Telecom Armenia, said: “The Nokia brand is highly respected in Armenia and we’re delighted to be working with them on a comprehensive Multi-PON and WiFi solution which enables us to offer 10Gb/s broadband to our customers using integrated XGS-PON solution. The network equipment installed is ready to support 25Gb/s making us the first telco in the region ready for Nokia`s 25G PON technology.”