Sunday, November 7, 2021

U.S. Infrastructure bill directs $65 billion for broadband and middle mile

The U.S. House of Representative passed and President Biden signed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which includes $65 billion to expand high-speed broadband across the country.

The funding will be directed at areas that are unserved or underserved in broadband availability. Grants will also be available for connectivity projects in tribal areas, and for enabling middle mile broadband infrastructure.

"Unserved" is currently defined as locations with speeds of under 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Upgraded infrastructure must offer a minimum of 100 Mbps downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads. 

"Middle mile infrastructure" is defined as any broadband infrastructure that does not connect directly to the end-user location, including anchor institutions (libraries, schools, etc) and including leased dark fiber, interoffice transport, backhaul, carrier neutral Interntet exchange facilities, carrier neutral submarine cable landing stations, undersea cables, transport connectivity to data centers, special access transport, wired or private wireless broadband infrastructure, microwave capacity, radio tower access, and other services or infrastructure for a private wireless broadband network, such as towers, fiber, and microwave radio links.

The purpose of the middle mile infrastructure grants will be to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved last mile areas to Internet backbones, including providing resilient network paths that avoid single points of failure on a broadband network.

The bill also includes subsidies for those who cannot afford broadband service. The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment included in this package aims to bridge the digital divide in disadvantaged communities. In addition to all 50 states and Puerto Rico, funding will be available for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The full text of the Infrastructure Bill is here (search for broadband):

  • Gary Bolton, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association"“The Fiber Broadband Association applauds Congress for passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure package and taking the historic and necessary step to invest into our nations’ broadband infrastructure and the people that will be able to leverage it daily. The pandemic illuminated the critical need for ubiquitous and robust broadband availability, affordability, and adoption as it is a foundation for job creation, economic development, remote learning, virtual workforces, and telehealth services. This investment in fiber broadband provides a path for smart grid modernization, Smart City applications and emerging technologies such as such as 5G, IoT, and precision agriculture.  Today’s affirmative vote enables the nation to embrace digital equity for generations to come.  Americans must have access to fiber broadband if they are to participate fully in our society, economy and civic affairs and we appreciate this legislative milestone as the vote to invest $65B in broadband is a vote for the American future.”

Orange Concessions - the FTTH joint venture for rural France - is operational

Orange Concessions, the new company 50% owned by Orange and 50% owned by a consortium made up of La Banque des Territoires (Caisse des Dépôts), CNP Assurances and EDF Invest, is now operational.

Orange Concessions comprises 24 Public Initiative Networks (PIN), under contract with local authorities, in Metropolitan France and overseas territories. These networks ultimately represent over 4.5 million households connected to fiber, making Orange Concessions the leading infrastructure operator in rural France.

At the signing, Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange said: "By 2025, 30% of FTTH connections in rural areas of France will be operated by Orange Concessions. Over the past ten years, Orange has been the undisputed leader of this major infrastructure project in France. I am now delighted that long-term investors – recognized for their infrastructure expertise and their proximity to local authorities – have acquired a stake in Orange Concessions. Orange is more committed than ever to being the go-to partner for local authorities in their regional digital development projects."

Olivier Sichel, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse des Dépôts and Managing Director of La Banque des Territoires said: "The target to reach 100% coverage by 2022 set-out in France’s Very High Speed Broadband plan requires the mobilization of everyone. By investing in Orange Concessions alongside CNP Assurances and EDF Invest, La Banque des Territoires continues to fight against regional exclusion, of which the digital divide is one possible cause.

Oranges brings in investors to back rural fiber rollout

Orange will establish a new ownership structure and funding vehicle supporting its rollout of fiber connection in rural France.Orange has entered into an exclusivity agreement with La Banque des Territoires (Caisse des Dépôts), CNP Assurances, and EDF Invest for the sale of a 50% equity interest and co-control of Orange Concessions, which will be France’s leading fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) operator of networks rolled out and operated on behalf of 23,...

Orange outlines its 5-year strategic plan - Engage 2025

Orange will sell off some key infrastructure and work with RAN-sharing partners while re-focusing on its core home broadband, mobile connectivity, and financial businesses in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, under a new five-year strategic plan presented by company executives. In terms of FTTH infrastructure, Orange will continue to invest on its own in order to fulfill its commitments in medium-density areas (AMII) in France, while engaging...

Dish: Open RAN Opens the Door for Advanced Enterprise Services

If you want a network that is learning, adapting, and testing you need to observe. In this video, Marc Rouanne, EVP and Chief Network Officer at Dish, talks about the drivers that led to Dish’s decisions in their Open RAN design and their shift to the cloud to provide enterprise services.

Download the 2021 Open RAN Report here:

Orange launches TOTEM, its European TowerCo

Orange officially launched TOTEM, its wholly-owned European TowerCo which will be operationally independent from the rest of the Orange Group.  

TOTEM will offer mobile infrastructure sharing offers to operators. It will also sell sell coverage solutions to improve connectivity in dense and enclosed environments: stadiums, underground stations, trains, offices, etc.

Orange has transferred all of its key European passive mobile infrastructure assets (sites, land, leases and leases to third parties) to TOTEM.

As of 1 November 2021, TOTEM’s passive mobile infrastructure portfolio includes over 26,000 sites in France and Spain, the two largest countries where Orange is present. TOTEM France will manage 18,500 macro-sites with a mix of 58% tower sites, 30% flat roofs and 12% in other locations. TOTEM Spain will manage 7,900 macro-sites, distributed equally between tower sites and flat roofs.

At launch, TOTEM has around one hundred employees in France based in seven cities (Lille, Nantes, Toulouse, Marseille, Paris, Lyon, Donges), around fifty employees in Spain based in eight cities, and approximately twenty people working for TOTEM Group.

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, said: “TOTEM’s operational launch is an important milestone in our European infrastructure strategy. The creation of this entity will allow us to derive value from our passive mobile infrastructure, for which we have exceptional operational expertise. By opening up these assets to other operators, we will optimize its use. We are determined to support TOTEM on both a strategic and financial level, to make it an undisputed leader on the European market and to keep control of this strategic asset as part of a long-term industrial vision. By retaining control of our infrastructure, we have made a crucial decision for our future growth.”

Nicolas Roy, CEO of TOTEM Group, said: “Launched first in France and Spain, TOTEM has become a new player for regional development in Europe. TOTEM will create value for all stakeholders - operators, landlords and real estate players, regional authorities, companies -, thanks to its connectivity solutions and equipment sharing. TOTEM’s teams will rely on the excellence of its mobile infrastructure and a thorough understanding of its customers’ needs to develop connectivity services everywhere, in both rural and urban locations.”

Hawaiki plans transpacific SDM cable with 240 Gbps design capacity

Hawaiki Submarine Cable Limited Partnership (Hawaiki) announced plans for a new spatial division multiplexing (SDM) cable linking South-East Asia, Australasia and North America. 

The Hawaiki Nui system, which will span an estimated 22,000 km, will have a design capacity of 240Tbps and provide end-to-end connectivity between the three main hubs of the Pacific region: Singapore, Sydney and Los Angeles. The company plans to begin construction next year, with an expected cable ready for service (RFS) date in 2025.

Hawaiki has selected PT Mora Telematika Indonesia (Moratelindo) as its strategic partner for Indonesia, where it will have landings in Jakarta and Batam.

In Australia, Hawaiki Nui will serve both international and domestic capacity requirements, linking Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, while providing them with direct access to Singapore and Los Angeles.

Hawaiki Nui will also be the first international cable to land in the South Island of New Zealand, linking Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill directly to Australia via a new and fully diverse subsea route. In addition, two branches will be built to connect Oahu and Big Island in Hawaii.

“Coupled with the existing Hawaiki cable, Hawaiki Nui will significantly expand our subsea network and offer unparalleled connectivity and redundancy to customers operating in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Remi Galasso, founder and executive chairman of Hawaiki. An all-in-one submarine cable infrastructure with multiple international and domestic routes embedded in the same system, Hawaiki Nui has been designed to deliver direct connectivity through new subsea paths and provide optimal diversity.”

  • Earlier this year, Hawaiki announced the sale of 100 per cent of the shares of the company to BW Digital, an affiliate of Singapore-based global maritime conglomerate BW Group. The transaction is subject only to applicable regulatory filings and approvals, which are expected to be completed by early 2022.

FTC orders Broadcom to cease anticompetitive behavior

The Federal Trade Commission has prohibited Broadcom from entering into certain types of exclusivity or loyalty agreements with its customers for the supply of key chips for traditional broadcast set top boxes and DSL and fiber broadband internet devices. 

Broadcom has also been ordered to stop conditioning access to or requiring favorable supply terms for these chips on customers committing to exclusivity or loyalty for the supply of related chips. 

The FTC order also prohibits Broadcom from retaliating against customers for doing business with Broadcom’s competitors.

  • The FTC complaint, which was first announced in June 2021, alledged that between 2016 and the present, Broadcom negotiated and entered into agreements with leading OEMs, pursuant to which the OEMs agreed, for contract and renewal terms spanning multiple years, to purchase, use, or bid Broadcom Relevant Products in STBs and Broadband Devices on an exclusive or near-exclusive basis. The complaint stated that Broadcom induced OEMs to enter these agreements by communicating that OEMs that broadly committed to Broadcom would be treated as favored or “strategic” partners. Customers that did not broadly commit to Broadcom would be mere “tactical” customers, facing higher prices and less favorable non-price terms and conditions than their rivals, including disadvantageous technology access, product allocation, delivery lead times, and bid support. The complaint stated that Broadcom entered exclusive or near-exclusive agreements with at least ten OEMs, which collectively are responsible for a majority of STB and Broadband Device sales worldwide, and even higher percentages of STB and Broadband Device sales in the United States.

Nokia builds mini-OLT with its Quillion chipset

Nokia introduced what it is calling the world's smallest Optical Line Terminal (OLT) based on its Quillion chipset. 

The Lightspan DF-16GM OLT, which can simultaneously provide services from 1 to 25 Gbps, is designed for deployment in street cabinets in low-density areas.

The mini-OLT supports GPON, XGS-PON and 25G PON. These enables the unit to cover all service types (residential, business and anyhaul) from a single solution. Nokia says the new unit uses half the energy of its predecessor and 25% lower than prescribed by the EU Code of Conduct.

Sandy Motley, President, Fixed Networks at Nokia, said: “Fiber deployments are accelerating and extending to rural areas and new segments such as enterprise and mobile transport. We are thrilled to be able offer the Lightspan DF-16GM to operators who require high capacity, low density, small format fiber solutions which can be installed in street cabinets and enables them to address these new opportunities.”