Thursday, July 7, 2022

FCC begins Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative for mobile operators

The FCC launched a Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative (MDRI) aimed at ensuring that the nation’s communications networks are more available in the midst of disasters and other emergencies. 

MDRI will leverage the industry-developed Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, which is a voluntary agreement among a limited group of facilities-based mobile wireless service providers.   This agreement, which the Commission endorsed in lieu of a mandatory regulatory regime at the time,  commits its participants to a five-pronged approach to enhance coordination during an emergency by 

  1. providing for reasonable roaming under disaster arrangements (RuDs) when technically feasible; 
  2. fostering mutual aid among wireless providers during emergencies; 
  3. enhancing municipal preparedness and restoration by convening with local government public safety representatives to develop best practices, and establishing a provider/PSAP contact database; 
  4. increasing consumer readiness and preparation through development and dissemination with consumer groups of a Consumer Readiness Checklist; and 
  5. improving public awareness and stakeholder communications on service and restoration status, through Commission posting of data on cell site outages on an aggregated, county-by-county basis in the relevant area through its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).   

Beyond the terms of the Framework itself, the FCC sought input on whether wireless providers should be required to perform testing of their roaming capabilities and related coordination processes, submit reports to the Commission regarding how the Framework had been implemented during a disaster and on whether despite the merits of its history during disasters now, the Framework would be more effective if some or all of its obligations were codified as mandatory. 

The FCC has now issued a Report and Order requiring that all facilities-based mobile wireless providers, including each such signatory to the Framework, comply with the MDRI. 

The FCC believes the incremental costs imposed on facilities-based mobile wireless providers by these new requirements will be minimal in many cases and, even when significant, will be far outweighed by the nationwide benefits.

Jessica Rosenrorcel, Chairwoman of the FCC, states: "Today’s action takes several important first steps to improve the resiliency of our wireless networks.  First, it expands the times and places where carriers will be able to roam on each other’s networks during an emergency, improving the likelihood that people will be able to stay connected when the unthinkable happens.  Second, it takes what has to this point has been a voluntary Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, which promotes service continuity through coordination, assistance, and information sharing during and after emergencies and disasters, and makes it mandatory for all mobile network operators.  We’ve seen that the mutual aid and other provisions of this Framework can be effective at speeding recovery and ensuring responders have all the information they need, and it’s time that these practices be implemented on an industry-wide basis.  Third, it changes the circumstances that can trigger the initiation of the Framework, meaning that the Framework’s activation will be more predictable, consistent, and responsive to needs on the ground."

Brightspeed outlines initial FTTP builds

Brightspeed has outlined plans to rollout fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) in a number of locations across its 20-state footprint. 

Brightspeed will initially be comprised of the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) assets and associated operations of Lumen Technologies, which are the subject of a pending acquisition by Apollo-managed funds. The company recently announced that it had secured all necessary state-required regulatory approvals in the 20 states in its operating footprint. The parties expect to obtain final FCC approval in the third quarter, and to close the transaction in early fourth quarter.

Brightspeed said it intends to invest at least $2 billion in its fiber optics transformation, which is expected to reach up to 3 million homes and businesses over the next five years, including in many rural and suburban locations where fiber and advanced technology have not historically been deployed. The company has been ramping its network design and construction planning as it prepares for day one operations across its multistate operating territory.

Brightspeed's FTTP architecture leverages XGS-PON, capable of symmetrical internet speeds exceeding 1Gbps, and Wi-Fi 6 for optimal performance and coverage to support the multitude of connected devices within homes and businesses.

First phase rollouts announced so far:

  • Alabama - by the end of 2023, Brightspeed will finish the first phase of construction and deliver over 60,000 new fiber passings across several counties in the state. This includes locations over the next 18 months in markets within Baldwin, Covington, Dale, Elmore, Fayette, Geneva, Henry, Pickens, and Tallapoosa counties.
  • Louisiana -  by the end of 2023, Brightspeed will deliver up to 14,000 new fiber passings in the first phase of its fiber optics network build in the state of Louisiana. The 2022-23 fiber build plan for Louisiana targets locations in portions of Acadia, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, and Webster parishes. The company aims to achieve an additional 14,000 fiber passings in Louisiana in subsequent years of its build plan, for a total of up to 28,000 fiber-enabled locations in Louisiana.
  • North Carolinaby end of 2023, Brightspeed will deliver over 300,000 new fiber passings in portions of more than 30 counties in the first phase of construction in the state. This includes locations within the Greenville/New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, and Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem areas, among others. Brightspeed further plans an additional 500,000 fiber passings in subsequent years of its network transformation initiative, for a total of up to 800,000 fiber-enabled locations across its North Carolina footprint.
  • Ohio - by end of 2023, Brightspeed aims to deliver over 170,000 new fiber passings in portions of a dozen counties in the first phase of construction in the state. This includes locations in Allen, Crawford, Darke, Defiance, Henry, Logan, Lorain, Richland, Trumbull, Union, Van Wert, and Wayne counties. Brightspeed plans an additional 210,000 fiber passings in the state in subsequent years of its build plan, for a total of over 380,000 fiber-enabled locations across its Ohio operating territory.
  • Texas - by the end of 2023, the company will deliver over 120,000 new fiber passings in the first phase of deployment in the state. This includes locations in portions of the Atascocita, Killeen, Kings Crossing, and Port Aransas communities. Brightspeed plans to add 160,000 more passings in its Texas operating territory – for a total of up to 280,000 – in subsequent years of the network build.
  • Virginiaby the end of 2023, Brightspeed plans to deliver over 60,000 new fiber passings in the first phase of its fiber network build in the state of Virginia. This includes locations in portions of the city of Charlottesville, as well as parts of Albemarle, Campbell, Henry, Page, Rockbridge, and Smyth counties. Brightspeed further plans an additional 70,000 fiber passings in subsequent years of its network transformation program, for a total of up to 130,000 fiber-enabled locations in Virginia.

"We are pleased to share our initial fiber build locations for Louisiana," said Sherry Hessenthaler, Operations Strategy Lead for Brightspeed. "Brightspeed's mission is to expand and accelerate the availability of high-quality broadband that will enable our communities to grow and thrive. We are looking forward to offering a new choice in internet and to extending the full capabilities of our advanced fiber technology to residents and businesses in our Louisiana footprint."

"In addition to our initial network build scope, we welcome the opportunity to work with key stakeholders at state and local levels to further expand fiber-based internet availability through participation in Louisiana's Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program and other initiatives as they arise," added Hessenthaler.

Lumen to sell ILEC operations in 20 states for $7.5 billion

Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) agreed to sell its ILEC (incumbent local exchange carrier) business, including its consumer, small business, wholesale and mostly copper-served enterprise customers and assets, in 20 states to funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management for $7.5 billion, including debt assumption of approximately $1.4 billion. Lumen will retain its ILEC assets in 16 states, as well as its national fiber routes...

CenturyLink is now Lumen

CenturyLink changed its name to Lumen Technologies.The company's mission statement is "to help lead enterprises through the challenges and opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution – a time when smart, connective devices are everywhere.""Our people are dedicated to furthering human progress through technology. Lumen is all about enabling the amazing potential of our customers, by utilizing our technology platform, our people, and our relationships...

QuiX raises €5.5 million for photonic quantum processor

QuiX Quantum, a start-up developing a photonic quantum processor, announced a €5.5 million Seed Round investment from PhotonDelta, and Oost NL.

QuiX, which is based in Enschede, Netherlands, has developed a low-loss, multimode, reconfigurable interferometer that functions as quantum photonic processor, allowing the user to perform arbitrary, controlled interference between a number of optical channels, in the classical or quantum domain. The processor consists of an optical chip on which the interference occurs, which is packaged in a plug-and-play control box. QuiX says its quantum photonic processor is fully calibrated and temperature stable. The company includes dedicated control software. 

Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta, said: “QuiX Quantum is one of the Netherland’s most exciting startups. In only three years it has become an industry leader and now, with this initial investment, it will be able to make a serious breakthrough in quantum computing. Photonics is an incredibly powerful new technology that has scores of applications. QuiX Quantum is showcasing how it can be applied to overcome some major hurdles in quantum computing and underscoring why it is so important that we build our own European photonics industry.”

The Netherlands aims for photonic integrated circuit leadership with €1.1B fund

PhotonDelta, a cross-border ecosystem of photonic chip technology organizations,secured €1.1 billion in public and private investment. This includes €470 million from the National Growth Fund of the Netherlands, while the rest is co-invested by various partners and stakeholders. The aim is to transform the Netherlands into the leader of the next generation of semiconductors and photonic integrated circuits (PICs).The programme will run for six...

Taiwan's NEXCOM ships single-port 200GbE SmartNIC

NEXCOM, a leading supplier of network appliances based in Taiwan, has released a compact single-port 200GbE network interface card (NIC) powered by the NVIDIA ConnectX-6 Dx SmartNIC silicon and a PCIe Gen4 interface. The network connection is enabled through one QSFP56 port to utilize double-bit PAM4 data transmission. This allows 200 Gbps in each direction using a single 4-lane copper or fiber cable. The NVIDIA ConnectX-6 Dx SmartNIC provides more value-added features, including advanced networking and security to accelerate mission-critical applications. Thus, NL 110FM-OS is perfectly fit for security, virtualization, SDN, NFV, big data, machine learning, storage, and network performance testing and emulation.

The new product is compatible with NEXCOM's latest rackmount network appliances.

 "By adopting the latest 200GbE NIC card powered by ConnectX-6, our customers can significantly increase the throughput of their servers and pivot to massive data processing without much effort," said Matthew Liu, CTO of Network & Communication Solutions at NEXCOM. "We have a long history of working with NVIDIA on the adaptation of previous generation LAN controllers and are looking forward to our next successful joint projects."

"Data centers are being transformed by the growing demands of next-generation architectures required for massive hyperscale clouds and AI workloads," said Eunice Chiu, VP, Sales and GM Taiwan at NVIDIA. "NVIDIA's networking platform equips innovators such as NEXCOM to supercharge networking performance for the next wave of breakthrough data center applications."

Microsoft's data center UPS batteries to provide backup for Irish grid

Microsoft believes the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) batteries used in its hyperscale data centers could provide backup power to the public electrical grid. 

The UPS in Microsoft’s Dublin data center in Ireland will be the first to enable real-time interaction with the electric power grid. This will help grid operators provide uninterrupted service when demand exceeds the supply generated elsewhere on the grid by wind, solar and other sources.

"We have this battery asset in the datacenter that is just sitting there,” said Christian Belady, distinguished engineer and vice president of Microsoft’s datacenter advanced development group. "Why don’t we offer it to the grid and come up with a dynamic way of managing it as a dual-purpose asset and thus drive more efficiency and asset utilization? That’s what drove this win-win situation."

SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink satellites

SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The booster was successfully recovered.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, Transporter-3, and now eight Starlink missions. 

The mission was the 28th this year for SpaceX. It was also the 100th time that SpaceX has reflown a first stage.

Orange France installs Passive Optical LAN from Nokia

Orange is deploying a passive optical LAN (POL) solution from Nokia at over 20 sites in France including the new Orange Headquarters, Bridge, in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris.

The POL solution replaces the existing copper-based LAN, connecting more than 5,000 end points including Wi-Fi and hard-wired terminals.

Philippe Gacougnolle, Orange France Director of the Internal Network Domain said: “Moving to POL for our intra office connectivity can save significant energy costs and reduce emissions which is essential to help Orange meet its ambitious environmental goals”

Stephane Azoulay, Nokia Head of Orange France Account said: “Switching from traditional LAN to POL technology means a more compact solution, with less energy consumption and much better performance proving the best possible user experience. We’re proud to have been selected by Orange for this important project.”